CLEMSON – Monte Lee grew up in South Carolina and understands the history and tradition of Clemson baseball. As the Tigers’ head coach he hopes to build on that legacy.
Clemson introduced Lee as its head baseball coach Monday. He joins the Tigers after seven years as head coach the College of Charleston, replacing Jack Leggett, who was fired after 22 years. Leggett and his predecessor, Bill Wilhelm, combined to lead Clemson for 58 years and built the program into one of the nation’s best. The foundation they set is part of what drew Lee to Clemson.
“I think one of the biggest things that stands out about Clemson is the tradition of this program and the consistency of this program,” Lee said. “Our fan base that comes to support our programs here at Clemson is second to none. When you look at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, and I’ve been here many times, it’s as rabid a fan base as there is in all of college baseball.”
Lee says he’s excited to follow Leggett and Wilhelm after all they accomplished with the Tigers. He’s also proud to lead a program in his home state. He was born in the Upstate, grew up in Lugoff, and plans to use his in-state ties in recruiting.
“The kids of South Carolina will be our utmost priority,” he said. “We will recruit this state inside and out. We will also recruit nationally. We will go to all parts of this country to recruit the best and brightest student-athletes that we can find, because the Clemson brand is nationwide.”
And once those players are on campus, he plans to build strong relationships with them. Those bonds, he says, are more important to him than anything. And it doesn’t stop with the players. He’ll also develop positive relationships with his coaches, Clemson staff and fans. And he’ll foster a great mindset and work ethic among his players.
“I can promise you that our players will come to the field every day, the classroom every day, in our community every day and in the weight room every day with a tremendous attitude and give this university and this program tremendous effort in everything that they do,” he said.
Lee went 276-145 at the College of Charleston with four NCAA tournament appearances. Baseball America named him one of its top 10 coaches under 40 in 2012. He also served as an assistant coach at South Carolina from 2003-’08.