Monte Lee, 39, is a graduate of Lugoff-Elgin high school near Columbia, SC. He was a star outfielder for the College of Charleston and had a brief Single-A career with the St. Louis Cardinals. In 2012 he was listed as one of the top 10 coaches under 40 and represents a potential long-term leader for Clemson's baseball program.
Monte Lee began his coaching career as an assistant at Spartanburg Methodist Junior College. While there, the SMC Pioneers set the single season win record and played in a NJCAA World Series. In 2003, he was hired away to be an assistant under Ray Tanner at SC. At South Carolina, he spent time coaching hitters, particularly outfielders. In his sixth and final season there, he was also the recruiting coordinator. He was an assistant coach (hitters/outfielders) under Ray Tanner at South Carolina.
After the 2008 season, Monte Lee accepted the position of head coach at his alma mater, College of Charleston. He has been in Charleston for seven seasons now and has guided the Cougars to the NCAA tournament four times. The College of Charleston has only been playing D1 baseball since 1991 so they don't have much in terms of history, but they did win the SoCon regular season or tournament each of the four years prior to Lee's arrival, so he was coming into a good situation.
Now playing in the Colonial Athletic Conference, Lee's Cougars went 21-3 in conference play and racked up over 40 wins. His teams have finished with at least 38 wins in five of his seven years in Charleston. In 2014, the Cougars knocked off the Gators and won the Gainesville Regional. This year, they challenged Florida State in the Tallahassee Regional, but fell short of advancing with a 2-2 record.
With Clemson's immense postseason struggles for the past half decade, a proven winner would be a welcome hire in Tiger Town.
With his success, the College of Charleston has given him a raise to $193,000, but that won't be enough to keep Clemson away. If Monte Lee loves Charleston and wants to stay at his alma mater, maybe more money won't be enough to bring him to the upstate.
Another factor may be his time in Columbia. Did he grow up a Gamecock in Lugoff? Does he think Ray Tanner will hire him as the next coach at SC if Chad Holbrook has another awful season? Would he really turn down a $150,000+ raise for the chance to maybe become the Cocks manager? Unless a perfect storm of the Cougars closing the salary gap, the nostalgia of coaching his alma mater, and the possibility of taking over in Columbia strikes, I just don't see how can justify not accepting an offer at Clemson. This would be a fantastic hire for Clemson and one that is absolutely realistic. If Monte heads to the upstate, expect a great deal of justified excitement around the baseball program next season, even in a serious rebuilding year.