South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner hopes signees for the class of 2017 will have an opportunity to meet the new Gamecocks baseball coach before deciding whether to sign professionally or come to USC.
The MLB draft will be held next Monday, and Baseball America has six Carolina signees on its list of the top 500 prospects for the draft, including Luis Campusano, Noah Campbell, Kyle Jacobsen, Carmen Mlodzinski, Logan Chapman and Ian Jenkins.
Players have until Aug. 15 or until they enter school to decide if they want to sign a professional contract or come to Columbia.
“We would like for them to have an opportunity before they make a decision, whether they become a professional or not, to visit with the new head coach. Hopefully, that can work out,” Tanner said. “I can’t stand here and tell you it will be a perfect scenario. But that would be my wish if we have a young person that’s considering an opportunity to bypass school that they visit with our new head coach when that time comes.”
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In the meantime, Carolina assistants will continue to stay in contact with signees and commits. Sammy Esposito and Jerry Meyers remain on staff, for now, and are still recruiting for USC.
“I met with the assistant coaches last night and we talked about it and shared some information. I shared my opinions and, certainly, they’re professionals in here every single day,” Tanner said. “We are working on a recruiting class that, obviously, has concern at this time. Our current players, contact was made today and last night, and we’ll continue to move forward in that capacity until a head coach is named.”
TANNER WEIGHS IN ON FANS
Tanner does not spend much time on social media and did not see negative comments posted by fans throughout the season but did receive plenty of letters and emails expressing disappointment with where the program is.
He said that did not factor into the decision for USC to part ways with Holbrook, adding he appreciates having a passionate fan base.
“It didn’t play into any of our conversations or the assessment,” Tanner said. “People care. We want them to care. We want them to come to the games. It’s part of it. Coaches understand that and players understand it as well.”
Tanner went on to say expectations are high at USC, but not making the postseason is not what led to the change.
“The emphasis throughout the country in college baseball from athletic directors and presidents is at a place it’s never been before. The attention is great, and a lot of programs have expectations of playing in the postseason,” Tanner said. “I will tell you this, I embrace that. Our fan base is tremendous. We’ve got a beautiful place to play. I coached for a long time. I don’t think expectations are always met, but I don’t think you’re a failure if you don’t meet, maybe, the fans’ expectations.”