Sources: South Carolina Targeting Paul Mainieri As Next Head Coach


Image credit: LSU coach Paul Mainieri (Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos Via Getty)

Multiple sources on Monday told Baseball America that South Carolina is targeting Paul Mainieri as its next head coach. As of yet, there is no confirmation that a deal is in place.

Mainieri, who won the 2009 national championship at LSU, has been out of baseball for the last three seasons after retiring as the Tigers coach following the 2021 season.

Mainieri, 66, would bring an impressive pedigree. He was a head coach for 39 seasons at LSU, Notre Dame, Air Force and St. Thomas (Fla.) and ranks eighth all-time in wins with 1,505. Mainieri led LSU to the national championship in 2009 and a runner-up finish in 2017. He is one of 13 coaches to lead two different programs to the College World Series and was named Baseball America Coach of the Year in 2009.

When Mainieri retired three years ago, sources said he stepped down because of health issues, as he suffered from migraine headaches in 2021. After his retirement, however, Mainieri has never gone far from coaching. He was involved in coaching searches at Notre Dame in 2022 and Miami in 2023 before passing on both opportunities.

If Mainieri does accept the job, he will return to the dugout after three seasons away and do so in a very interesting spot. He will be working for Ray Tanner, against whom he used to compete in the SEC before he was promoted to athletic director in 2012. It is also against Tanner whom every South Carolina baseball coach is judged. Tanner won back-to-back national titles in 2010-11 and played for a third straight title in 2012. In his 16 years at the program’s helm, he turned the Gamecocks into one of the sport’s premier programs and made six appearances in Omaha.

Since Tanner became athletic director, however, South Carolina has not maintained that level of success. First under Chad Holbrook and then Mark Kingston, the Gamecocks have slid into the middle of the SEC pack over the last 12 years. They’ve made the NCAA Tournament seven times, still a strong rate, and made super regionals four times. But they haven’t been to Omaha, haven’t won the SEC and hosted supers just once.

In the 12 years since South Carolina’s last CWS appearance, 10 SEC schools have reached Omaha – and that doesn’t count Oklahoma and Texas, which have both been in that time frame and are now joining the conference.

Getting South Carolina back to that level would be Mainieri’s remit. He will have to navigate the transfer portal, the new NIL realities, a 16-team super conference and, possibly, a completely restructured college baseball landscape after the settlement of House v. NCAA. All of that has changed significantly since he led LSU.

It won’t be easy, but Mainieri has proved to be impressively adaptable in his career. He coached at a service academy, an elite academic school in the Midwest and, arguably, the sport’s biggest job. He won at all three. Leading South Carolina in 2025 would perhaps require his biggest adjustment yet.

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