Cliff Godwin: 5 things to know about potential South Carolina baseball coach

With the news that South Carolina had parted ways with baseball coach Mark Kingston after seven seasons and another NCAA regional exit, many thought the top candidate the Gamecocks could snag was right in the Carolinas.

East Carolina coach Cliff Godwin, according to D1Baseball managing editor Kendall Rogers, was “the biggest guy” South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner could snatch to resurrect the Gamecocks baseball program.

Here are five things to know about Godwin.


After more than a decade of service as an assistant coach for some of the best programs in America — Vanderbilt, LSU, UCF, Ole Miss — Godwin finally earned his first head coaching job in 2014, taking over his alma mater in Greenville, North Carolina.

He inherited a program that had missed the NCAA Tournament in each of the previous two seasons and turned the ECU Pirates around in no time.

During his first season, East Carolina won 40 games and played in a regional. A year later, the Pirates advanced to a super regional, losing to Texas Tech in three games. ECU did fail to reach the tournament in 2017 but hasn’t missed since — aside from the COVID-canceled 2020 season.

A decade after he was hired, Godwin is one of the most-respected coaches in college baseball. East Carolina has won the American Athletic Conference in each of the past five full seasons. It’s made a regional eight times under Godwin and advanced to the supers four times.


If there is a criticism of Godwin, it’s that he has yet to take the Pirates to the College World Series.

The fact that it is a letdown when East Carolina doesn’t make it to Omaha is perhaps a result of how Godwin has raised the expectations in Greenville. The Pirates have seemingly had teams capable of making the CWS.

Think about this: In five of Godwin’s 10 seasons at ECU, the Pirates have hosted a regional. Seven times they’ve won more than 40 games. But the NCAA Tournament disappointments have been real.

This season, while hosting a regional, the Pirates fell to No. 4-seed Evansville, which became only the ninth 4-seed in 25 years to advance to a super regional.

And even the four times when ECU has advanced to a super regional, it hasn’t missed out on Omaha because of a little bit of bad luck. In East Carolina’s four super-regional elimination games, the Pirates were outscored 38-2.


A year ago, East Carolina brought in the 23rd-best recruiting class in the country, a feat even more impressive when you see who was behind the Pirates.

No. 24 — Clemson. No. 25 — Ole Miss. No. 27 — South Carolina

Granted, East Carolina bolstered its numbers by getting more kids, but it’s still extraordinary that an AAC school in Greenville can out-recruit some of the best schools in the SEC.

But Godwin has done that all throughout his career. Though his primary duty as an assistant was being a hitting coach, he always had a major role in recruiting operations — even serving as UCF’s recruiting coordinator.

During his last assistant-coaching stint at Ole Miss, Godwin helped bring three consecutive top-15 recruiting classes to Oxford.

“Everybody you asked about that knew him had rave reviews,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said about hiring Godwin.


Outside of the SEC, it is not easy to keep assistant coaches in college baseball. Still, Godwin — a guy with a backround in hitting — has only had three pitching coaches in his decade at East Carolina.

The first was Dan Roszel, who was on the previous staff but Godwin kept in Greenville. He stuck around until 2019, when Kentucky hired him to the same role.

To replace Roszel, Godwin hired former Oregon pitching coach Jason Dietrich to look after the Pirates’ arms. He stuck around for two seasons — including in 2021, when starter Gavin Williams posted a sub-2.00 ERA and became a first-round draft pick — before taking the head coaching gig at his alma mater, Cal State Fullerton.

And for the past three seasons, Austin Knight — a former ECU volunteer assistant — has been the Pirates pitching coach. In 2024, East Carolina had the ninth-best team ERA in America (4.05). For reference, South Carolina came in at No. 59 (5.05).


Two years ago, Godwin inked an extension with East Carolina that kept him under contract through 2029 and raised his salary to $600,000.

Interestingly enough, that’s not far off from what South Carolina was paying Kingston this past season. The Gamecocks were giving him $725,000 annually, plus some small bonuses for making the NCAA Tournament and having good APR scores.

It’s unclear what Godwin’s buyout at East Carolina would be, but South Carolina likely wouldn’t have to spend much more on salary if it brought Godwin to Columbia.