University of South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner is in his fifth year guiding the fortunes of the Gamecocks’ athletics programs. After a long and highly successful career as Carolina’s baseball coach, Tanner officially began his new duties on Aug. 2, 2012.
Under Tanner’s watch, Gamecock student-athletes have achieved tremendous success in intercollegiate athletic competition, in the classroom and the community.
During the past two academic years, Gamecock student-athletes have led all schools in the SEC Academic Honor Roll, earning more than 700 recognitions. Carolina student-athletes have earned a cumulative 3.0 grade point average or better in 18 consecutive semesters.
In the last four academic years, the Gamecocks have won a national championship (equestrian), five SEC regular season and tournament championships and its 686 points in the 2015-16 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup All-Sports Standings is the most since 2002-03 (701 points).
The 2012 season marked Tanner’s 25th year as a collegiate head coach, He posted a 738-316 record at South Carolina with a ,700 winning percentage, second highest all-time among SEC coaches, His career record was 1,133-489-3 for a winning percentage of ,699, His final 12 teams featured 23 All- Americans.
Tanner gained valuable experience at an international level in his association with USA Baseball. He served five stints with Red, White and Blue, including in 2003 as head coach for the USA National Baseball Team. At the helm of some of the top freshmen and sophomores in the country, Tanner’s club finished with a 27-2 record, the best record for a U.S. National Team (.931 winning percentage) and won a silver medal at the 2003 Pan American Games. He was named the U.S. National Coach of the Year for his work that season. Prior to his head coaching stint, Tanner served as an auxiliary coach under Tommy Lasorda for the 2000 Olympic Team that won a gold medal at the XXVII Olympiad in Sydney, Australia. He was also an assistant under former LSU coach Skip Bertman with the 1995 and 1996 USA teams that culminated in a bronze medal win at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Ga. Tanner also served alongside former Mississippi State coach Ron Polk on Bertman’s staff. Tanner’s first stint with USA Baseball came as an assistant coach to the national team in the summer of 1993.
Tanner was named the South Carolina head coach June 14, 1996, after nine successful seasons at North Carolina State. At NC State, Tanner led his alma mater to seven appearances in the NCAA postseason tournament and ranked second for most wins in school history. He was the 1990 Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year and in 1993, was named Atlantic Region Coach of the Year when his team won 49 games.
Following his playing career with the Wolfpack, Tanner served as an assistant at NC State for Coach Sam Esposito. As an assistant coach, he also held additional duties as assistant to athletics director Jim Valvano and an assistant athletics director in charge of game operations. Following Esposito’s retirement, Valvano elevated the 28-year-old Tanner to head baseball coach.
Tanner has a bachelor’s degree in recreational administration from NC State (1980) and a master’s of public affairs, public administration (1983).
Born Donald Ray Tanner, Jr., March 25, 1958, in Smithfield, NC, Tanner grew up in Benson, NC. He is married to the former Karen Donald, a native of Charleston, SC. A University of South Carolina graduate, she was formerly head women’s athletic trainer at NC State, During the summer of 1997 she served as trainer for the Charlotte Sting in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), She is the former director of athletics and director of sports medicine at Columbia College.
The Tanners have two daughters, Bridgette Grace (“Gracie”) and Margaret Pearl (“Maggie”) and one son, Joseph Luke (“Luke”).