South Carolina has found its next baseball coach.
USF head coach Mark Kingston will take over the Gamecocks program, a source confirmed to The State on Thursday evening.
Dan Lucas of WFLA in Tampa was the first to report Thursday that Kingston was leaving to be the new Gamecocks coach, and D1Baseball.com’s Kendall Rogers later confirmed the news.
USC athletics director Ray Tanner did not respond to a request for a comment.
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The USC Board of Trustees is set to meet Friday morning to discuss “proposed athletic department contracts,” and a source told The State that the new baseball coach salary is on the agenda.
Kingston was the head coach of the Bulls for three seasons, leading USF to the NCAA Tournament in two of three years. South Florida won 42 games this past season, including victories against Florida and Florida State. USF topped the 40-win mark for the first time since 1996. The Bulls had not reached the NCAA Tournament since 2002.
“He’s regarded as a really good overall coach and even more so a great recruiter,” Rogers told The State. “He’s a guy that’s going to be one of the few head coaches that is out at these 15 and 16u tournaments… He’s going to recruit well. He’s certainly highly regarded as a coach. I wouldn’t say that about someone if I didn’t think it and I think he’s going to do a really good job there.”
Kingston interviewed for the South Carolina job June 22. He also was reportedly a candidate for openings at Virginia Tech and Alabama this offseason.
Prior to becoming the head coach at USF, Kingston was the head coach at Illinois State from 2010-14, leading the Redbirds to the NCAA Tournament in 2010 — their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1994.
He has an overall head coaching record of 253-180-1.
“I really believe Mark Kingston will win big at South Carolina,” Aaron Fitt of D1Baseball tweeted. “Have long viewed him as one of those ‘can’t miss’ future SEC/ACC star coaches.”
Prior to becoming a head coach, Kingston was an assistant at Purdue, Illinois State, Miami and Tulane.
He was an assistant at Miami when the Hurricanes won the national title in 2001 and was also an assistant on Tulane’s College World Series team in 2005.
Kingston is expected to receive a significant salary increase from what he was making at USF, which was $140,000 per year.
Former Gamecocks head coach Chad Holbrook, who resigned June 6, was being paid $400,000 per season.
Holbrook took USC to the Super Regionals twice, but stepped down after missing the NCAA Tournament for the second time in the past three seasons.
Like Holbrook, Kingston also played college baseball at North Carolina. Kingston was a part of the 1989 Tar Heels squad that won the ACC Championship and advanced to the College World Series.
In addition to Kingston, Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan and Clemson coach Monte Lee were mentioned to be candidates for the Gamecocks job.
Multiple sources told The State that O’Sullivan was seriously considering taking the USC job, but after winning the national title he apparently opted to remain at Florida.
Mark Kingston’s bio
▪ Previous stops as head coach: Illinois State, USF
▪ As an assistant coach: Miami, Tulane, Illinois State, Purdue
▪ Career record: 253-180-1 (170–101 at Illinois State, 100–78-1 at USF)
▪ Alma mater: North Carolina
▪ Age: 47
▪ Playing career: Drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1992. Played five seasons with Milwaukee and Chicago Cubs organizations.