FLORENCE, S.C. - Gerald Griffin, longtime athletic director and baseball coach at Francis Marion University, has announced that he will retire effective June 30, 2000.
Griffin made the announcement Wednesday (April 26), shortly after concluding his 28th season on the FMU bench. One of the winningest collegiate coaches in the nation, Griffin has more than 730 career victories, including 22 years of 20-plus wins at the helm of the Francis Marion program.
A native of Williamston, N.C., Griffin joined the Francis Marion staff in 1972 as head baseball coach and assistant dean of student affairs. He was named athletic director in 1973 and has served continuously in that capacity while also coaching baseball, leading an athletic program from mere existence to one of national prominence.
“Francis Marion University is grateful to Gerry Griffin for his dedicated service to the athletic program over the past 28 years,” said FMU President Fred Carter. “His baseball coaching record and the record of other Patriot athletic teams during his tenure speaks for itself.”
In announcing his retirement, Griffin said, “I am most appreciative of the support of our coaches, the student athletes and our fans in the community over these many years, but it’s time to move on to some things I would like to do. I want to return to spring training in Florida, which I have not done since attending as a professional player. I plan to attend the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball tournament, which I have not seen since I was in graduate school at Chapel Hill. I look forward to doing a lot of fly fishing, visiting every Major League baseball park in the country, and playing in the National Masters’ Racquetball Tournament.
“Most of all, I look forward to being on my time schedule rather than the schedule of others – to spend a Sunday afternoon sitting on my back porch watching the ducks and geese land on the lake and the birds come and go from the feeder."
Griffin directed the Francis Marion athletic program as it moved from NAIA status to NCAA Division II affiliation in 1992. Under his leadership, the program grew from seven sports (four men's and three women's) to its current 14 sports (seven for both men and women). In 1997, the school received the highest marks among all South Carolina institutions and Peach Belt Athletic Conference members according to a gender equity report card released by the Women's Sports Foundation.
Under Griffin, the school captured a pair of national championships, both in women's basketball, and has earned the Peach Belt Athletic Conference Commissioner's Cup two straight years (1997-98 and 1998-99), signifying the most successful all-around athletic program in the conference. He was instrumental in the founding of the Patriot’s Brigade, the fund-raising organization for FMU athletics that has generated $1.3 million in gifts since 1971.
Seven years ago, he inaugurated the Patriots Brigade Academic Honor Roll banquet, annually honoring student athletes for academic achievement. FMU is annually among the leaders in the PBAC in students qualifying for the Presidents’ Honor Roll (which requires a B average).
In 1991, Griffin organized and directed the FMU Athletic Hall of Fame, which currently has 18 members. In addition, he wrote the proposal to the NCAA for the National Youth Sports Program (NYSP), which was awarded during the years of 1997, 1998, and 1999.
During the school's 20 years as a member of the NAIA District Six (1972-92), Francis Marion won 38 district team titles, including at least one district championship in 17 of the 20 years. During its final year as a NAIA member, FMU won four district titles.
Since joining the 12-member PBAC in 1992, Francis Marion has won four team championships, while eight of the 14 sports have earned national poll rankings.
Since beginning the Patriot baseball program, he has directed FMU to a 655-433-1 mark in 28 seasons, including a trip to the 1993 NCAA regional tournament. His career baseball coaching record, including six seasons at St. Andrews Presbyterian College, stands at an impressive 736-521-1.
Nine times in his career, Griffin garnered “coach of the year” honors, twice being named the South Carolina Baseball “Coach of the Year,” and in 1993, he was elected to the NAIA Hall of Fame. This honor gained him formal recognition by the S.C. House of Representatives with a house resolution congratulating and commending him for the honor.
Since 1974, he has directed the Patriot summer baseball camp, which has been attended by countless area youths.
Griffin earned both the B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of North Carolina, where he was a four-year letterman on the Tar Heel baseball team, twice earning All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors. He later spent several seasons in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system.