From a basketball side I'm all for this hire, but with the paying players I'm a bit nervous with the whole pending ncaa violations and all. I think this will go through but I just don't want us to provoke the NCAA.
Over the weekend, it was reported that South Carolina AD Eric Hyman formally asked Kansas State for permission to talk to basketball coach Frank Martin about the vacancy in Columbia. Given a chance to kill the talk on CBS during its NCAA Tournament coverage, Martin danced:
“In the age of social media that we live in right now, it’s crazy. I was scheduled to be at a press conference today in South Carolina and I was sitting watching a show in New York City last night. And obviously I’m sitting here with you guys today, so it’s… The stuff that gets out these days, I look at it as a compliment that we’re doing our job the right way at Kansas State that these sort of things get out.”
That statement from Saturday was not a denial of his interest in the USC job. It was not a denial of anything, in fact. The day before he did tweet the following: “I have not talked 2 anyone.”
Well, if a report from GamecockCentral.com is to be believed — that’s the Rivals site covering Carolina — then Martin’s agent sure must be doing some talking. On the same day Martin was tap dancing around the subject on CBS, GamecockCentral wrote the following:
“A source close to Kansas State coach Frank Martin told GamecockCentral.com on Friday that a deal to bring the coach to Columbia to replace Darrin Horn was 90 percent done. On Saturday morning, the same source said that the deal remains 90 percent complete, but is not finalized.”
The site also claims a contract was sent to Martin on Friday night. And the student newspaper for USC — The Daily Gamecock — reported late last night that “Frank Martin interviewed in Columbia” according to “a source.”
Could all the Carolina talk simply be leverage for the coach? It’s possible as he’s scheduled to open negotiations on a new deal with K-State on April 1st.
It’s also possible according to The Kansas City Star — and as we suggested last week — that Martin is ticked over his school’s decision to suspend a key player right before his team’s second-round NCAA tourney game with Syracuse.
PowerCat.com — the Rivals site covering Kansas State — reported yesterday that “a source close to Martin” said “It’s not about money anymore.” Meaning Martin’s relationship with KSU AD John Currie might be beyond repair after the suspension of Jamar Samuels. That site also suggests that if Martin leaves, “dirty laundry will be tossed everywhere” by the talkative, hot-headed coach. (Wonder what Hyman thinks about that?)
Meanwhile, Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall — a South Carolina native and the man most-often mentioned in connection to USC’s search as it got underway — has announced that he’s staying put in Kansas.
So the previous favorite isn’t in the running (and apparently never really was). Sources are reporting that Carolina has met with Martin, hammered out 90% of a deal, and sent him and his agent a contract. All just one week before the coach is set to negotiate a new deal with Kansas State.
Unfortunately for Cock fans, the only news this morning on Martin does not concern a signed document. Instead, ESPN is running a story with this headline as of 10:35 this morning: “Frank Martin paid his former players.”
Yikes. But it’s not exactly what you think.
In the story, Martin is quoted — from his CBS stint on Sunday — as saying that he sent money “to kids that played for me in high school when they were in college because I knew where they came from. I knew they didn’t have a father figure.”
“I’m not going to tell you who they were,” Martin said during the broadcast. “But I sent them a lot of money over the years to make sure they could take their girlfriend out to the movies, make sure they could wash their clothes and do all the things that scholarship money doesn’t cover.”
Martin was making the case for his own suspended player — who was given $200 by an AAU coach who had been a father figure to the young man growing up.
While Martin’s statement shows that he has a heart, it might also cause the NCAA to start asking some questions. No, Martin did not admit to paying his own players — a clear NCAA violation. But he did admit to sending money to other schools’ players. And that’s exactly the kind of action that led to one of his own players being suspended for fear of an NCAA violation.
That admission might throw a wrench into Hyman’s plans. You can bet he would have preferred the coach had never mentioned anything about his payouts to other schools’ players.
So, is Martin angry enough to bolt a traditional basketball school for a football-first school in a football-first conference? Is he simply using Carolina for leverage to get more money and more control in Manhattan?
And is Hyman ready to pull the trigger on a guy who can be a bit of hair-trigger himself and who’s just admitted on national television that he’s sent cash to college players? From Carolina’s side of things it looks like things are still all-systems-go. GamecockCentral.com is reporting today that USC’s board of trustees will hold a special meeting tomorrow morning to discuss “contractual matters.”
In other words, it looks like Martin may fly (to) the coop a few days before that scheduled negotiation with Currie and KSU is scheduled to begin.