MANHATTAN — If not for someone finding a receipt for a wire transfer at a local grocery store two weeks ago, Kansas State senior forward Jamar Samuels would have been able to play against Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament.
Athletic director John Currie said an unidentified person found the receipt, which K-State sources have said proved Samuels accepted $200 from his former AAU coach, the day before the Wildcats’ third-round game.
By accepting the wire transfer, K-State decided Samuels violated NCAA rules and would be suspended from K-State’s next game. Without Samuels, Syracuse pulled away from K-State in the second half and won 75-59.
“It was found, basically, it was found just on the floor, in the trash at the grocery store and it was brought to the compliance office,” Currie said Tuesday. “I promise you, I wish it would have stayed in the trash.”
Currie said K-State conducted a thorough but quick investigation and he had to make the decision to suspend Samuels. Coach Frank Martin said after the Syracuse game he didn’t think Samuels did anything wrong and that he wasn’t a part of the decision-making process.
Some, including a source close to Martin, have indicated that was the breaking point in an already rocky relationship between the coach and athletic director. It played, at least, some role in Martin’s decision to leave for South Carolina.
Martin, however, said he may still have taken a new job had things gone differently.
“The decisions I make in everything I do has nothing to do with a single decision someone else makes,” Martin said.
K-State president Kirk Schulz said the disagreement between Martin and Currie was blown out of proportion, and that they have always had a strong relationship. Martin and Currie said the same on Tuesday.
“I called John after that and said, I’m sorry it looks like you got thrown under the bus here,” Schulz said. “He said, ‘Look Kirk, it’s OK, Frank is being competitive. He’s trying to get it done. I’m OK with it.’ Then what happened is there are never any comments after that.
“That is where this all started. Over the last three days this has just sort of taken on fact and I don’t think that has been fact over the last three years.”
Currie said he had no reason to think Samuels money at other times. He also said K-State doesn’t think it will affecting previous games he played in.
He also said he has no regrets.
“There was a violation of NCAA rules in that circumstance,” Currie said. “Under the rules a student-athlete if they have committed a violation … they are ineligible from the time it occurred and or the time the institution becomes aware of it.
“It would have made my weekend a lot better if a receipt hadn’t shown up in our compliance office. We do not have people out combing the trash cans in Manhattan searching for trouble. Once it came into our possession, for us to do nothing would have risked the integrity of the institution.”
Currie and Schultz met with reporters moments after Martin took the podium as South Carolina’s new coach in Columbia.
“I ask the K-State faithful to rally around whoever our new head coach is,” Schulz said.
Currie said the search has already begun, and will be his sole task until a hire has been made. Currie said there was no timetable for bringing in Martin’s replacement, and that he had no set parameters for what he will look for in a new coach.
“We have everything a coach needs to win here at Kansas State,” Currie said.
Martin left K-State after five seasons. He said he left for South Carolina because of the “new challenge” it presented. He is looking forward to his new job, but said that informing his former K-State players by phone on Monday of his intentions was an excruciating process.
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life,” Martin said in a teleconference.
Currie said he held a meeting with players Monday evening and that they took the news well. He said each member of Martin’s coaching staff has been offered the opportunity to follow Martin to South Carolina.