COLUMBIA — Ray Tanner is pleased he kept South Carolina athletics moving forward in his first year as athletic director.
Tanner worried things in the department might hit a speed bump after he took over last summer.
“I was concerned, ‘Okay, I’m going into a new role. Do we have to take a step back before we can take two forward,’ ” he said.
Tanner credits the department’s staff for ensuring that didn’t happen.
“That’s the thing I think I’m most happy about, that there wasn’t a lull,” he said.
Tanner acknowledged he had the advantage of a building plan that had already shown results such as the $36.5 million Carolina Stadium, a baseball facility that’s helped the Gamecocks win national championships in 2010 and 2011.
Tanner’s office view looks on the nearly completed softball complex. Further on is a track and field area set for renovation. Tanner has added his own twists to the plan, too, mapping out space for the school’s fledging sand volleyball program, indoor tennis courts and a new basketball practice facility.
And it’s hard to think of a better stretch for the Gamecocks in football. Steve Spurrier’s team has posted consecutive 11-win seasons for the first time in school history and South Carolina.
But they’re not the only sports showing success. Women’s basketball reached its second consecutive NCAA tournament under Dawn Staley. Tanner also liked the passion he saw from men’s basketball coach Frank Martin and is confident the group of newcomers entering this fall will boost the team’s play.
The biggest roller-coaster ride for Tanner came during baseball season. Tanner watched as the Gamecocks came up a game short of their fourth straight College World Series appearance. Tanner thought Holbrook did a strong job in his debut season and thinks the Gamecocks run of baseball success will continue.
Tanner also expects better of himself in year two.
“We’re in a very good place. Are we where I want to be? No,” he said. “I believe there’s still opportunity for growth.”