Monte Lee is back in Columbia as the former Clemson baseball coach has begun his second stint as an assistant with the Gamecocks.
Lee, who was hired prior to the start of the 2016 season, was dismissed by Clemson in May after the Tigers failed to make a regional for the second straight season.
“Graham (Neff) made a decision at the end of this season,” Lee said in his first session with the media since joining the Gamecocks staff. “We didn’t make it to the postseason. And he made a decision to make a change. I respect it because I know the business that I signed up for.”
While Lee was certainly disappointed to see his time at Clemson end, he harbors no ill will, and is intent on maintaining a good relationship with everyone at the school.
“At the end of the day, I have good relationships with everybody at Clemson, just like I have great relationships here at South Carolina,” Lee said. “And it’s simply my personality. I’m a big believer in treating people the way that I want to be treated, and showing respect to everybody, because that’s just how I was raised. That’s just who I am as a man. Life is too short to have grudges or be bitter. I’m not bitter about anything.”
All in all, while it didn’t end the way he had hoped, Lee’s overall experience with the Tigers was a positive one.
“I feel pretty good about how I treated the players, the relationships that I have there with the people. I hope that the people that work at Clemson feel the same way,” Lee said. “As far as how I treated the people, our working relationships, my relationships with the players, the fact that we had a ton of academic success there, and look, we had some good years, we had some bad years, but all in all, I did the very best that I could. And we know what business we’re in.”
Admittedly, the rivalry series now takes on a different meaning for Lee. While he may now be back on the other side of the rivalry, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want the best for his former players, and Lee will always be grateful to be a part of what he considers the best rivalry in college baseball.
“You know, the jersey that we wear is never going to change how I feel about them as people, and I hope they feel the same way,” Lee said. “Hopefully the fact that I’m at the rivalry school now doesn’t change how they feel about me. Look, I know it’s going to be different that weekend. You know, we’re gonna do everything we can to beat them, and they’re gonna do everything they can to beat us. And that’s the beauty of competition. It’s also the beauty of a rivalry that’s unique to the state of South Carolina.”
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