Million-dollar man: Paul Mainieri hired as highest-paid baseball coach in USC history

It’s official: Paul Mainieri is the new head coach for South Carolina baseball.

USC’s Board of Trustees governance committee approved Mainieri’s hiring and contract in a meeting Tuesday. His deal will run for five years with an annual salary of $1.3 million.

Mainieri comes out of retirement tied with Mississippi State’s Chris Lemonis as the eighth-highest paid coach in SEC (according to 2024 salary figures reported by The Tennessean) and first million-dollar baseball coach in school history.

The committee also approved a new three-year contract for current assistant baseball coach Monte Lee ($550,000 a year) and new assistant coach Terry Rooney ($425,000 a year).

The 66-year-old Mainieri coached at LSU for 15 seasons and led the Tigers to a Men’s College World Series title in 2009. He had been retired since 2021 before agreeing to take the helm at South Carolina. He was making $1.1 million a year in his last contract with LSU.

Mainieri will be expected to make the Gamecocks contenders for the Men’s College World Series, where USC has not been since 2012 (when current athletic director Ray Tanner was the coach).

USC parted ways with Mark Kingston last week after the 2024 season ended with a 2-0 loss to James Madison in the NCAA Raleigh Regional. Kingston coached at South Carolina for seven years and compiled a 217-145 overall record (including 83-96 in the SEC). He led the Gamecocks to four NCAA Tournament appearances and two super regionals during his tenure.

South Carolina also adds new softball, men’s golf head coaches

Former Gamecocks pitcher Ashley Chastain was approved as the new softball coach. Her contract will run through June 30, 2029, and she will receive an annual salary of $300,000 per year.

Rob Bradley was approved as the new men’s golf coach. (may 31 2029) His contract will run through May 31, 2029, and he will receive an annual salary of $240,000.

SEC baseball coaching salaries 2024

  • Vanderbilt — Tim Corbin: $1,942,165*

  • Florida — Kevin O’Sullivan: $1.755 million

  • LSU — Jay Johnson: $1.65 million

  • Ole Miss — Mike Bianco: $1.625 million

  • Tennessee — Tony Vitello: $1.5 million

  • Texas A&M — Jim Schlossnagle: $1.46 million

  • Arkansas — Dave Van Horn: $1.4 million

  • Mississippi State — Chris Lemonis: $1.3 million

  • South Carolina — Paul Mainieri: $1.3 million

  • Auburn — Butch Thompson: $1.275 million

  • Texas — David Pierce: $1.2 million

  • Alabama — Rob Vaughn: $900,000

  • Oklahoma — Skip Johnson: $775,000

  • Kentucky — Nick Mingione: $705,000

  • Georgia — Wes Johnson: $702,000

  • Missouri — Kerrick Jackson: $675,000

*According to most recently available tax records (2022)