Former Clemson baseball coach Lee embraces SC assistant role | Basketball

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By PETE IACOBELLI – AP Sports Writer

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) — Monte Lee, born about a half hour from South Carolina, learned long ago the significance of the Gamecocks’ fierce rivalry with Clemson.

Now, Lee is treading a path rarely traveled as a former Clemson baseball coach who joined the South Carolina dugout as that team’s new associate head coach and scouting coordinator less than three months after draining his office with the Tigers.

Lee is ready for the whistles, hurt feelings and weird looks he’ll get from those who hold this baseball battle with sacred meaning – and right after the school’s annual football game.

“In this state, there are no Yankees and Red Sox,” Lee said Monday. “We are the Yankees and the Red Sox”

Over the years, several people have worked on the playing fields, courts, fields, and athletic offices for Clemson and South Carolina. Even longtime Tiger de Lee boss, former Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich, was a sports administrator at South Carolina earlier in his career.

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Only South Carolina head football coach Brad Scott in recent times had a quick change of color when he joined the Tigers coaching staff less than two weeks after he was fired following the 1998 season.

Lee, who spent seven years managing the Tigers, saw Scott at Clemson, although the two never talked about switching sides during the Palmetto State showdown. Lee will face this head-on.

“As for the embarrassment of being the head coach of Clemson for seven years, I’m not going to shy away from the fact that a lot of those kids in the (Clemson) program were kids that I coached,” said Lee. “I love these kids very much. Nothing will change how I feel about the players I have coached.”

Or those he will soon know since joining South Carolina coach Mark Kingston’s program.

Kingston has respected Lee’s work for some time – Lee and the Tigers were 10-5 against Kingston and the Gamecocks over the past five seasons – and is grateful to add “the passion, the experience and the Lee’s knowledge to our team.

Lee worked for current South Carolina AD Ray Tanner from 2003 to 2008, helping the Gamecocks to two College World Series trips in 2003 and 2004. Lee also spent seven seasons as head coach of the College of Charleston, reaching the NCAA Tournament four times earlier. his hiring at Clemson.

With the Tigers, Lee reached the NCAA his first four seasons. The tournament was canceled in 2020 and Clemson failed to show up on the court for the past two years, resulting in Lee being fired. “I did the best job possible,” he said. “We all know what field we work in.”

Lee’s new venture helps Kingston bring as much success as possible to the Gamecocks.

The two didn’t know each other very well until they became rival coaches. Outside the lines, Lee and Kingston spoke to each other several times each spring to see how things were going. “We shared a unique perspective,” Lee said.

It was Kingston who called to gauge Lee’s interest in the South Carolina opener. Lee had planned to become a professional trainer, but was intrigued by the idea of ​​staying in the state and joining a program with familiar faces. Three Clemson players — receiver Jonathan French, right fielder Dylan Brewer and relief pitcher Ricky Williams — moved to South Carolina after Lee’s departure.

Lee quickly changed his mind towards his last career mission, regardless of his recent past.

“I’m going to do everything I can to dominate this new role and put the players first,” he said.

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