COLUMBIA – Mark Kingston knows the expectations surrounding the University of South Carolina baseball program, ranging from athletics director Ray Tanner to the Gamecock fan base.
On Friday, as he was discussing his acceptance of the job as USC’s head coach, Kingston embraced those expectations.
“Coach Tanner made sure I knew what the expectations were many, many times,” said Kingston, who comes to Carolina after three seasons as the head coach at South Florida. “We won’t run from the expectations. We will run toward the expectations, because trust me, they are the same.
“I know how important the in-state rivalry is here with Clemson. I get that. We will work very hard to do the absolute best we can to win those games. I know how important that is to people. We will do our best to make sure those games are very positive for the Gamecocks. We want Omaha (Nebraska, where the College World Series is held) as much a you.”
South Carolina knows Omaha quite well, having won consecutive national titles in 2010 and 2011 under Tanner and finishing as runner-up in ’12. However, in five seasons under Chad Holbrook USC didn’t play in the CWS and missed out on the NCAA tournament twice in the final three years.
“We will work hard to get there,” the 47-year-old Kingston said. “Only eight teams get there every year, but we can work every day to make sure that’s our focus.”
Kingston pointed out that he has been to the CWS three times, once as a player at North Carolina and twice as an assistant coach, first at Miami and then at Tulane.
“I want to get there a fourth time with a fourth school wearing these colors. I can assure you, I know that’s what your goals are. Those are our goals too.”
Kingston had a 100-78-1 record in three years at USF, winning 42 games this past season. He led the Bulls to the NCAA tournament twice in his three seasons.
Prior to USF, he was the head coach at Illinois State for five seasons. Kingston was 170-101 at Illinois State for a career record of 253-180-1.
Tanner believes Kingston is going to inspire the fan base.
“So at the end of the day, when my staff and I were talking about opportunities for the future of this program, I’m not sure there was a box he didn’t check,” Tanner said. “He had a chance to visit with some of our current players while he was in town, and I got outstanding reviews from those meetings. He had a chance to visit with a lot of people that he made an impact on. He is a family-first man. He is all about the student-athlete experience. He’s all about embracing the culture that we have here.”