South Carolina Baseball: Gamecocks build elite staff to support coach Paul Mainieri

South Carolina baseball has a new baseball coach in the legendary Paul Mainieri, and the Gamecocks have assembled a strong staff around him.
New South Carolina baseball coach Paul Mainieri
New South Carolina baseball coach Paul Mainieri / Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, South Carolina baseball officially hired legendary veteran coach Paul Mainieri to be the next leader of the program.

Some Gamecock fans are over the moon about bringing on the 2009 National Championship-winner, others are skeptical about his age and lack of NIL/transfer portal experience (he hasn't coached since 2021), and others are in wait-and-see mode.

If Mainieri and the Gamecocks are both going to return to their former places of prominence within the sport of college baseball, there are a lot of things that have to "go right" for Carolina. Arguably the most important of these is that Mainieri and athletic director Ray Tanner had to build a strong staff of assistant coaches to support Mainieri.


On Tuesday, in addition to Mainieri's contract (5 years, $1.3 Million per year), the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees also approved two assistant coaching contracts. Reports then surfaced regarding the third assistant.

The two assistant coaches whose contracts were ratified on Tuesday were Monte Lee and Terry Rooney.

Lee, the former head coach at College of Charleston and Clemson, has spent the last two years as the associate head coach with the Gamecocks in what was his second stint as an assistant in Columbia. He was a candidate for the head coaching job this offseason. Lee's role within the program was viewed as so important that he will be bringing in a $550,000 salary, the highest of any assistant in the country. His contract is set for three years. He will be the associate head coach and hitting coach for the Gamecocks.

Mainieri is bringing in his former pitching coach from LSU, Terry Rooney, to serve in the same role with USC. Rooney also spent time as a director of recruiting and player development with the Tigers and that will shape his role with the Gamecocks. His official title is set to be pitching coach/recruiting director. He signed a three-year deal worth $425,000 per season.

The program also announced (though, contract figures have not been finalized) that John Hendry will be the third assistant coach. Hendry spent the last three seasons as the director of recruiting and scouting for the Virginia Cavaliers, a job in which he helped find and develop talent for Brian O'Connor's team. UVA has made the NCAA Tournament all three years and the College World Series twice with Hendry on staff.

The hiring of the staff seems to be a hit among the players. After rumors that he was entertaining the transfer portal, star right-handed batter Ethan Petry seemed to reveal that he was returning to Columbia after the news of the hirings went public. Petry posted on social media "Let's go Gamecocks" along with a Gamecock emoji and "#home."

The hires also show that South Carolina baseball is finally going to start paying coaches like an elite program. With Mainieri (who is the all-time winningest coach among active coaches) ranking in the top-10 nationally in coaching salary, Lee being the richest of all assistants, and Rooney ranking highly among other assistant coaches, the Gamecocks are flexing some financial muscles that fans have longed for them to do since winning back-to-back National Championships in 2010 and 2011.

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