Long-time FMU baseball coach Art Inabinet retires

FLORENCE, SC – Francis Marion University long-time baseball head coach Art Inabinet announced his retirement on Monday (May 6) just days following the end of the 2024 season.

Inabinet recently completed his 24th season as FMU’s head coach, and his 26th year overall at the university.

Francis Marion director of athletics Murray Hartzler said a national search for his successor will begin immediately.

Inabinet concludes his career as the Patriots’ winningest all-time coach with a 704-478-2 record, and his career coaching record at the four-year collegiate level stands at 788-532-2.

“Beyond being one of the most successful coaches in Patriot history, Art has been a role model for hundreds of young men over the years,” commented FMU president Dr. Fred Carter.  “He taught them how to be better players and more considerate and compassionate human beings. We all wish him the very best in retirement.”

“Art has been an exemplary representative of the athletic program and the entire university over the past quarter century,” Hartzler added.  “He built on the foundation that coach (Gerald) Griffin had established and added on, taking the program to new heights, including the 2006 World Series.  His win total and number of NCAA Tournament appearances speak for themselves.  He will be missed on the FMU campus, and we wish him all the best in this new chapter of his life.”

“Mentally and physical, it takes a toll on you after 34 years on the baseball diamond,” Inabinet said.  “As you get further along in your career, the retirement monster starts knocking, and for me it did about six months ago.  I wished we could have gone out on a more positive note, but my time at Francis Marion here has been tremendous and I am very appreciative.

“I will be forever grateful to Dr. Carter and Murray for giving me the chance to lead the Patriot baseball program.  I hope they are satisfied with the progress we have made over the past 26 years.  I am proud of the legacy we leave, and I think that the foundation is a solid one that my successor can build on.  Including developmental program players, we have more than 60 student-athletes involved with baseball.

“This place – both the FMU campus and Florence – have felt like home for 26 years.  Everyone, from players to administrators, have been so helpful as we strived to make the baseball program and the athletic program the best it could be.

“I hope that I have made some difference in young men’s lives.  When a former player contacts me and says that what I taught him at Francis Marion helped him later in life, well that is more important than any wins or losses.  The calls I get from former players seem to say that I have done this.

“My highlights at Francis Marion include winning the 2006 regional at Georgia College and advancing to the Division II World Series, opening Sparrow Stadium in 2012 with a win over South Carolina, and having so many guys being drafted and playing some type of professional ball – including our first big leaguer in southpaw pitcher Josh Edgins.  Sparrow Stadium is a breath-taking facility, and players and fans of Francis Marion are fortunate to have such a fine home to play and watch college baseball.”

In nine of his 24 seasons as head coach, the Patriots registered 30 wins, and seven times FMU earned invitations to the NCAA Division II national tournament.  Nine times during his tenure the Patriots appeared in the final Top 30 national poll at the conclusion of the season, and between the 2005 season and the 2013 campaign, the Patriots appeared in 127 of the 153 national polls.  Twelve Francis Marion players have been chosen in the Major League Baseball draft over the past 19 years.

The St. Matthews, S.C., native served as a Patriot assistant for two seasons (1999-2000) before succeeding long-time head coach Gerald Griffin as the second head coach in the program’s history.

Prior to joining the FMU staff in 1999, he served as head coach at North Greenville University for six seasons, recording a 155-122 mark (84-54 as a 4-year institution). He guided the NGU program from junior college status to a four-year program in 1996.

“While I was at North Greenville, I went recruiting at the high state championships at a high school in the Midlands.  The place was packed.  There was one seat left and I took it.  I was seated next to Francis Marion head coach Gerald Griffin.  We struck up a conversation, and that initial meeting eventually led me to Florence and a position as an assistant on Griff’s staff.

“All of what I have accomplished as a coach can be attributed to the guidance of Horace Turbeville (my coach at Winthrop University) and coach Griffin.  I also want to thank the many assistant coaches I have had the pleasure of working with at FMU and for their many contributions, and I want to thank all the players who have worn the red, white, and blue. And lastly to my family, thanks for allowing me to coach – a profession that is way more than a 9-to-5, five days a week job.

“I leave with no regrets.  It has been an awesome journey.  I have worked hard, been professional, abided by the rules, and put an emphasis on graduating student-athletes.  Your goal is to leave a place better than you found it.  While this past season didn’t go the way we would have wanted it to, I hope that we contributed to the purpose of the University and brought attention to FMU.”

Inabinet earned both his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Winthrop University – where he was a four-year letterman on the Eagle baseball team. Following his playing career, he served as a graduate assistant coach at Winthrop from 1989 to 1991. He also was the head baseball coach at The Catawba School for one year (1992).

Inabinet has directed of the annual FMU Baseball Camp held during the summer for over 20 years. His Patriot squads have taken part in the award-winning “Dads in the Dugout” community service program.

Griffin founded the Patriot baseball program in 1973 and won 655 games over 28 seasons before Inabinet took over in 2001.

FMU Season Highlights

·         In 2024, earned his 700th win as head coach of the Patriots with an 18-8 home victory over Claflin University on April 2.

·         In 2023, FMU advanced to the championship game of the Conference Carolinas Tournament.

·         In 2017, he guided FMU to a program-best 10-0 start to the season.

·         In 2015, FMU ranked seventh nationally in scoring, averaging 8.5 runs per contest and 10th in strikeouts per nine innings (8.9).

·         FMU posted 40-win campaigns in 2012, 2011, and 2010.

·         In 2012, Francis Marion finished with a 40-18 record and made a fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament – where the Patriots reached the regional title game for the third consecutive season.  The Patriots tied for second during the PBC regular season, reached the semifinals of the PBC Tournament, and were ranked seventh nationally in the final Top 25 poll.

·         On April 11, 2012, Francis Marion opened Sparrow Stadium with a 5-4 win over the ninth-ranked University of South Carolina Gamecocks – two-time defending College World Series champions – before a sellout crowd of 1,755.

·         In 2011, Francis Marion equaled the school record for wins with a 41-16 mark, won the Peach Belt Conference regular-season crown, received its third consecutive NCAA Tournament bid, and reached the regional title game for the second year in a row.  The Patriots ranked ninth in the final 2011 Collegiate Baseball Newspaper NCAA Division II Top 30 poll, the third such end-of-the-season Top 10 ranking in school history (and the second year in a row).  In addition to Inabinet earning PBC Coach of the Year honors, FMU also achieved a conference first by garnering Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, and Freshman of the Year awards.

·         In 2010, FMU was 40-14, the second-most wins in team history, and the Patriots tied for the PBC’s East Division crown. For the first time, FMU was selected to host the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Tournament where the Patriots placed second. Francis Marion ended the year ranked 10th in the final Top 30 poll.

·         In 2009, FMU posted a 38-15-1 record, finished second during the PBC regular season, won the PBC Tournament title, and earned its fourth national tournament bid in the past seven years, placing third at the regional. The Patriots were ranked 14th in the final Top 30 poll.

·         In 2008, FMU went 34-20, tied for third in the PBC regular-season standings, and ended the year ranked 27th.

·         The 2007 Patriot team was 36-18, placed third during the PBC regular season, and ended the year ranked 29th.

·         In 2006, Inabinet directed the Patriots to a program-best 41-18 record, a No.6 national ranking, and the program’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Division II College World Series.  The Patriots were ranked as high as third in the national poll during the 2006 campaign and spent seven weeks in the Top 10. FMU placed second in the Peach Belt regular-season standings.  Following the 2006 season, Inabinet was selected as the ABCA/Diamond Sports Company Coach of the Year for the South Atlantic Region.

·         In 2005, he led FMU to a 34-16-1 record, a No. 14 national ranking, and an NCAA post-season invitation. Ten of the 16 losses were to nationally ranked opponents. FMU’s team ERA of 3.11 was the lowest for a Patriot staff since 1980 and ranked eighth in NCAA II. The Patriots placed third in the PBC standings.

·         In 2004, Inabinet guided the Patriots to a 29-17 record and a fifth-place finish during the PBC regular season. FMU won 10 of its final 11 contests and spent six weeks in the Division II Top 30 poll, including one week at No. 7, the program’s then highest ranking ever.

·         In 2003, he directed FMU to a 30-20 mark, a No. 18 national ranking, and a third-place finish at the NCAA’s South Atlantic Regional. Picked to finish eighth in the PBC preseason coaches’ poll, the Patriots finished third in the PBC with an 18-10 mark, only one-half game away from winning the program’s first-ever conference title. The 18 conference wins were a team record.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WBTW.