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Ex-Clemson baseball coach Leggett thanks players, coaches; wishes team success after 22 years

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COLUMBIA, South Carolina — Ex-Clemson baseball coach Jack Leggett wished the Tigers success, even without their longtime leader at the top step of the dugout.

Leggett issued a statement Friday, a day after he was fired by Clemson after 22 seasons. He led the Tigers to six College World Series' appearances, the last one coming in 2010.

Leggett said he put "his heart and soul" into the program, and thanked his past players and coaches after nearly a quarter century with the Tigers.

"I'm extremely proud to have been their coach and teacher and of all our accomplishments together," Leggett said.

Leggett won 955 games since following the late Bill Wilhelm as coach in 1994 after two years as a Tigers assistant. He made the NCAA tournament in 21 of his 22 seasons at Clemson, but went 0-2 in regional play in each of the past two seasons.

Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said Thursday that despite the team's success under Leggett, "I think we can be better."

PHOTO: FILE- In this March 2, 2014, file photo, Clemson coach Jack Leggett runs out to first to argue with umpire David Brown on a call during an NCAA college baseball game against South Carolina in Clemson, S.C. Clemson fired the longtime baseball coach on Thursday, june 4, 2015, after the Tigers' second straight 0-2 appearance in the NCAA tournament. (AP Photo/Anderson Independent-Mail, Mark Crammer, File)) GREENVILLE NEWS OUT  SENECA JOURNAL OUT
FILE- In this March 2, 2014, file photo, Clemson coach Jack Leggett runs out to first to argue with umpire David Brown on a call during an NCAA college baseball game against South Carolina in Clemson, S.C. Clemson fired the longtime baseball coach on Thursday, june 4, 2015, after the Tigers' second straight 0-2 appearance in the NCAA tournament. (AP Photo/Anderson Independent-Mail, Mark Crammer, File)) GREENVILLE NEWS OUT SENECA JOURNAL OUT

Leggett, 61, has not returned messages from The Associated Press.

He took the high road in his statement, thanking administrators, support staff and athletic department personnel who he had gotten to know during his tenure.

"It has been a great pleasure to work alongside so many outstanding coaches and great people who have made a lasting impact on myself as well as Clemson," he said. "I truly have met some of the greatest people in my life during my time here as leader of this program."

Leggett also had kind words for fans who filled Doug Kingsmore Stadium during winning streaks and losing stretches. "Your enthusiasm and support will never be forgotten," the former coach said.

Leggett came to Clemson as assistant head coach in 1992 after spending five seasons as head coach at Vermont and nine seasons as head coach at Western Carolina. His 1,332 victories at the three schools ranked fifth among active NCAA Division I coaches before Thursday's dismissal.

South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner maintained a friendship with Leggett. Tanner was the Gamecocks baseball coach from 1997-2012, and they engaged in one of the Palmetto State's top sporting rivalries.

"As competitive as we were we were friends and also respected each other," Tanner said Friday. "For coach Leggett to leave the profession, it's not a great day for college baseball."

Leggett didn't indicate in his statement if he would pursue another head coaching job.

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