FLORENCE, S.C. – Francis Marion University men’s baseball assistant coach Art Inabinet, a native of St. Matthews, S.C., has been named the new head coach for the Patriot diamond program.
The announcement was made by FMU interim athletic director Murray Hartzler on Wednesday afternoon (Aug. 2), following an exhaustive search that included several highly qualified candidates from nearly 100 applicants.
Inabinet, 34, becomes the program’s second head coach, replacing Gerald Griffin, who retired this summer. Griffin began the FMU baseball program in 1973 and guided the Patriots to a 652-433-1 record in 28 seasons. Inabinet served as Griffin’s assistant during the 1999 and 2000 seasons, during which the Patriots posted a combined 37-48 record.
Prior to joining the Francis Marion staff, he served as head coach at North Greenville College for six seasons, recording a 155-122 mark (84-54 as a four-year institution). He guided the Mounties program from junior college status to a four-year program in 1996. Since making that transition, North Greenville was 14-21 in 1996, 34-17 in 1997, and 36-16 in 1998, including a pair of second-place finishes in the Mid-South Conference his last two years.
In 1995, Inabinet was named the Louisville Slugger “Coach of the Year” for the NJCAA Region X, as the Mounties posted a 31-22 record and won the region title.
“We truly feel we have the right man for the job,” Hartzler said. “Art has proven himself a winner as a head coach at the collegiate level. At North Greenville and here at FMU, he has also proven his ability to recognize and recruit in-state talent.
“He is popular with the players, and will provide stability and continuity to the Patriot baseball program in this transition period, following the retirement of coach Griffin.”
“I’m truly excited about this opportunity,” said Inabinet. “This is a great time in my life to take on the challenge of being the next baseball coach at FMU. I’m grateful to President Fred Carter, Athletic Director Murray Hartzler and the search committee for giving me this chance to lead the FMU program.”
Inabinet said he and his players would work hard in representing the university, not only on the playing field, but also in the classroom and in community service projects. His priority is to recruit in South Carolina and the Pee Dee to bring quality players to FMU. He also hopes to get the community involved in the baseball program in addition to being spectators and supporters.
“I want to conduct off-campus baseball camps for area youngsters and am willing to speak about FMU baseball to any group or organization,” said Inabinet. He plans to raise funds to improve FMU’s baseball facility.
Inabinet earned both the B.S. degree in history and the M.A.T. degree in secondary education (social sciences) from Winthrop University. As an undergraduate student, 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).
This summer, in his position as assistant coach, Inabinet signed nine in-state high school players who will attend Francis Marion this fall, four of them from the Pee Dee region. He will also welcome back 18 lettermen, including seven position starters, from last season’s squad that exceeded pre-season expectations by posting a 23-20 record and finished fifth in the highly competitive NCAA Division II Peach Belt Conference.
Hartzler said the baseball program, along with all sports at FMU, will be evaluated during the coming year.