COLUMBIA — University of South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner expects it will be some time before he fully appreciates his election to the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame.
Tanner – one of eight people inducted Monday – was honored for his 16 seasons as the Gamecocks’ baseball coach, which he capped with College World Series titles in 2010 and 2011 and a runner-up finish in the CWS last year.
Tanner, 55, stepped away from the program last July to head the school’s athletic department. He is grateful to be included in the hall but says his duties as an athletic director have kept him from soaking in the tributes that have come his way the past year. He was honored on opening day in February, had his No. 1 jersey retired and had the street outside South Carolina’s baseball stadium named for him.
“I never thought about the individual accomplishments. It was all about the team,” Tanner said. “And even from the standpoint of we won two national championships, I haven’t even taken the time to digest that. I still can’t go back and watch the tape because there were some close ones and I’m not sure we’re going to get out of it.”
Monday’s other inductees were:
• Homer Jordan, a quarterback who led Clemson to an undefeated season and a national football championship in 1981
• Jim Phillips, who served as Clemson’s play-by-play broadcaster for 36 years until he died in 2003
• Furman basketball player Clyde Mayes, who was twice named the Southern Conference player of the year and led the Paladins to an NCAA tournament win over South Carolina in 1975
• Travis Jervey, a Citadel running back who played nine NFL seasons with Green Bay, San Francisco and Atlanta
• Bill McClellan, the former Clemson athletic director who oversaw the increase in seating at the Tigers’ stadium from 18,000 to more than 80,000
• Former South Carolina power hitter Hank Small, who died in 2010 and held the Gamecocks career home-run record of 48 for 33 years
• Bamberg-Ehrhardt High baseball coach David Horton, who won 840 games – the most by any prep coach in the country
Horton, who coached 45 years, said he’s seen the level of the sport pick up, in part because of stellar college coaches like Tanner, who concentrate on fundamentals.
“I’m happy I could see that improvement through the years,” Horton said.
Tanner does not miss the dugout, even with baseball approaching the postseason.
“It’s good to be busy. I’m enjoying our coaches and the success our spring sports are having,” he said. “It’s great to be a Gamecock.”