Frank Martin was introduced as the new basketball coach at South Carolina, where he reportedly has gotten a six-year, $12-million deal, and immediately promised to “put 18,000 people in this arena.”
In his press conference this morning Martin, 45, said, “Our guys will be known as the hardest playing team in America.”
Martin led Kansas State to the NCAA tournament in four of his five seasons since replacing Bob Huggins and leaves to join a school that has struggled in the SEC. Still, South Carolina has a high-profile athletic department, with Steve Spurrier in football and Dawn Staley in women’s basketball and a national champion baseball team. All of those were factors in luring Martin to South Carolina, according to ESPN.
So, too, was a deteriorating relationship with Kansas State Athletic Director John Currie.
“Frank isn’t one to complain about someone behind his back,” a source told the Kansas City Star’s Kellis Robinett, “but I can tell you he doesn’t get along with that gentleman.” Robinett reports that the relationship reached the breaking point during the tournament when Currie and Martin differed over whether to hold Jamar Samuels out of a game against Syracuse because he allegedly was wired $200 by a former AAU coach. Martin was so upset, the Star reports, that he was ready to listen to South Carolina.
“Frank is just looking to be happy,” the source said. “He wants to work at a place where he has the full support of his athletic director and president. He wants to be left alone so he can do what he does best — coach.”
Martin, 117-54 at K-State, has been working as a commentator on CBS’ NCAA tournament broadcasts since K-State’s elimination and his comments about Samuels and paying players drew attention over the weekend.
“I coached 16 years in the same inner city in Miami that I grew up in. Do you know how much money I sent to kids that played for me in high school when they were in college because I knew where they came from?” Martin said, according to the Star. “I knew they didn’t have a father figure.”