"The University of South Carolina's athletics director will be Ray Tanner," USC President Harris Pastides said.
Amidst the applause of awaiting media, head baseball coach Ray Tanner approached the podium -- a coach no more -- and shook the hand of President Pastides.
"Very proud of you, coach," Pastides said, USC hat in his hand, "very, very proud of you."
"Let me put that hat on," Tanner said.
As he puts on the hat, Tanner takes on the role of a growing and expanding athletics department and leaves behind his successful 32-year coaching career.
In the Friday afternoon press conference, Pastides announced the end of the short search to replace outgoing AD Eric Hyman.
Pastides said when Hyman resigned, Tanner approached him about the job.
"He came to see me and said that he was ready," Pastides said. "I asked him if he was sure and he said yes. I said our fans might be mad about my taking him away from baseball and he said I'm sure and I'm ready for it if you'll have me."
A visibly emotional Tanner first thanked his family for their support in his new role.
"I want to thank my wife, Karen, and our children, who have unwavering love and support," Tanner said, voice shaking. "As is often the case in our business, our jobs impact our families, and my family, just like yours, handles it with a wonderful spirit, which I truly appreciate."
With his coaching career at an end, Tanner was asked how he felt about leaving behind the baseball diamond.
"I was at a point, I think, in my coaching career that I loved it, I was having fun, probably more so in the past 10 years than the previous 15, but I've never been a coach that wanted to stay until it was too late," Tanner said. "I wanted to get out while it was great. So many times I've seen great coaches stay and it didn't work out great at the end and the ones that are great at the end -- it's a small percentage."
In his brief remarks, Tanner talked about the challenges of taking off the baseball uniform and moving into his new role.
"This might be the biggest challenge for me -- putting on that neck tie," Tanner joked.
But it didn't take very long for him to embrace the challenge. In his first two acts as AD, Tanner says he has moved assistant athletics director Charles Waddell into the role of deputy athletics director and Kevin O'Connell into the role of chief operating officer.
Tanner also announced a press conference for Monday morning at 11 a.m. to reveal a new baseball coach. He joked the search for the new coach would be "short". All signs seem to indicate that Tanner will hire assistant head coach Chad Holbrook to replace him in the dugout.
With Tanner's success as a baseball coach unquestioned, he now turns to an administrative role with a department whose stock is on the rise in the Southeastern Conference thanks to the baseball team's national success and the football team's ascendency within the SEC.
As the head man at South Carolina, Tanner was the conductor of arguably the most successful run as a men's coach in the Gamecock athletics program.
With two national championships and three straight appearances -- six altogether -- in the College World Series finals, Tanner put together some of the best teams to ever take the diamond at Carolina Stadium and Sarge Frye Field.
Tanner first arrived on campus before the 1997 season, and was hired to replace outgoing coach June Raines.
"I know that I go out there and work hard and we're going to try and put our kids in a good situation. Integrity's going to be the focal point of this program on and off the field," Tanner said in his first press conference as USC's coach.
And he really did put the kids in a good situation. In his 16 years as South Carolina's skipper, he compiled a 738-316 record and never had a losing season with the Gamecocks.
Tanner was not only appreciated by USC fans, but honored by the media as he was awarded National Coach of the Year three times by Collegiate Baseball.
With Hyman's official last day just a few weeks away, Tanner has plenty of time to get acquainted with his new role.
According to the contract approved just minutes before Tanner took the podium, he will make $675,000 a year.
Copyright 2012 WIS. All rights reserved.