CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Citadel Athletic Hall of Famer and 21-year head coaching veteran Tony Skole has been named the Bulldogs’ head baseball coach, athletic director Jim Senter announced Thursday.
“It is rare that an athletic director has the opportunity to hire an alumnus with hall-of-fame status,” Senter said. “In this case, we found a candidate with an amazing understanding of The Citadel and what it takes to be a successful cadet-athlete. Coach Skole has 18 years of Division I head coaching experience, including nine seasons in the Southern Conference, so he is familiar with our league. We had an outstanding pool of sitting head coaches express interest in our job and we ended up with three strong finalists. It was apparent to our search committee that Coach Skole was the best fit for The Citadel at this time.”
Skole has earned 566 wins during his career, including a school-record 471 at ETSU. His 471 Division I wins are the most among current Southern Conference head coaches. He began his coaching career at Lincoln Memorial University, where he led the program through a transition from NAIA to Division II, and has been the head coach at ETSU since 2000. In 2013, he guided ETSU to 36 wins, the school’s first Atlantic Sun Tournament championship and the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1981. His 2011 team also won 36 games, capturing the program’s most wins since 1982. This past season, he led the Bucs to 30 victories, his sixth 30-win season in Johnson City, as ETSU advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Southern Conference Tournament.
“I am extremely honored and grateful for this opportunity,” Coach Skole said. “The Citadel has meant so much to me and my family over the years, and I have tremendous pride and passion for The Citadel and its athletic department. To once again be part of this wonderful institution is an amazing feeling. The legacy of The Citadel baseball built by Coach Port and Coach Jordan is unrivaled, and I am humbled to have the opportunity to follow them and the tradition they established. I cannot wait to connect with our wonderful alumni, former players, current players and future Bulldogs. I’m ready to get to work.”
Skole has earned a national reputation as an elite recruiter and developer of student-athletes. He has coached 64 all-conference selections, two conference players of the year and ETSU’s first conference pitcher of the year. Five Bucs were selected in last year’s MLB Draft, matching the program record set in 2006 and adding to his total of more than 30 of athletes who have continued their playing career in the professional ranks.
Skole’s ETSU teams showcased his balanced approach with multiple school records falling on offense and defense during his 18 years at the helm. In 2010, the Bucs broke single-season school records with 503 runs scored, 724 hits, 93 home runs and 142 doubles. His 2017 squad pounded out 654 hits for the second-highest single-season total in school history. ETSU has broken the school’s record for strikeouts in a season each of the last three years. The 2015 staff recorded 431 strikeouts, shattering the previous record by 73 Ks, before the 2016 staff registered 436 punchouts and the 2017 staff pushed the record to 461.
In 2004, Skole tutored catcher Caleb Moore to Southern Conference Player of the Year and All-America honors after Moore led Division I with a .455 batting average and an average of .60 doubles per game. In 2010, first baseman Paul Hoilman was the Atlantic Sun Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year and was a first-team All-American after leading Division I with a slugging percentage of .860. The 2013 season featured ETSU’s first conference Pitcher of the Year courtesy of right-hander Kerry Doane. Doane ranked first in Division I with 12 complete games and 147.0 innings pitched and became the school’s third first-team All-American.
Skole’s first head-coaching position came at Lincoln Memorial University, where he was elevated to the top position in 1997 after four years as an assistant coach for the Railsplitters. During his three seasons in charge at LMU, Skole led the team’s transition from NAIA to a Division II program that rose as high as No. 13 in the national rankings. He earned 95 wins and coached seven MLB Draft picks, including pitcher Scot Shields, during his time at LMU. Shields helped the Anaheim Angels win the 2002 World Series and was considered one of MLB’s top relief pitchers for most of the decade.
Skole is a 1991 graduate of The Citadel, where he lettered in baseball and football. As a third baseman, he helped the baseball team win two Southern Conference championships and a berth in the 1990 College World Series. He hit a home run at Miami to win the Atlantic Regional over the Hurricanes and clinch the trip to Omaha. In Omaha, Skole had a game-winning hit in the 12th inning against Cal State Fullerton. On the gridiron, Skole started 35 consecutive games as a defensive back and helped the Bulldogs to the 1990 Southern Conference title and two appearances in the NCAA I-AA playoffs. He was voted a team captain for the 1990 season and also led the SoCon in interceptions that season. In 2011, he was inducted into The Citadel Athletic Hall of Fame.
Skole and his wife, Jody, have three sons, Tilo, Jack and Gehrig.