Speculation begins to swirl around Martin

04/05/2011 12:00 AM

03/26/2012 12:24 PM

MANHATTAN — As long as Miami is without a basketball coach, speculation will fly at Kansas State.

Frank Martin, who grew up in south Florida and still considers the area home, is likely to be one of the coaches targeted by the Hurricanes in their search to replace Frank Haith, who is expected to be hired at Missouri.

This is a job that will interest Martin.

He has spent five seasons at K-State and four as the Wildcats' head coach. He has guided them to three NCAA Tournaments, including an Elite Eight last year, and is well-liked by fans. He is big on loyalty, and has gone out of his way to publicly thank K-State for giving him his first shot at a Division I head coaching job.

But Miami is where his roots are, and sometimes the lure of home can trump loyalty.

"Few people have known him longer than me, and I honestly don't know what Frank would do if Miami called," said Art Alvarez, Miami Tropics AAU coach and longtime friend of Martin. "There are perks to south Florida. He's from here and his family lives here. But I also know he loves the situation he's in at Kansas State. It would take something to get him to leave."

The question now is, will Miami pursue Martin? His name has already been mentioned by several media outlets as a possible candidate, but Alabama's Anthony Grant, Central Florida's Donnie Jones, Virginia Commonwealth's Shaka Smart and several others have as well.

And if Miami gets serious with Martin, would he welcome the opportunity to start over near family and friends when he already has something good going at K-State?

There are several reasons for Martin to be interested in the Miami position, but also a number of reasons to stay in Manhattan.

In K-State's favor is the fact that Martin signed a contract extension last season that pays him an average of $1.55 million per year through 2015. After signing the new deal, he emotionally thanked everyone who helped him earn the extension during a news conference. He could continue thanking those close to him by staying.

But his best recruits are out of eligibility. With Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly done as seniors, it will be difficult for K-State to match its recent success next season.

But the fan support at K-State is strong, and the Wildcats play in front of sellout crowds at Bramlage Coliseum. Martin says his family likes living in Manhattan, and he has moved into a dream home with his wife and two children.

K-State also broke ground on an estimated $17.6 million, 50,000 square-foot facility in late February that will supply the men's and women's basketball programs with an all-inclusive training center. The facility is expected to open by spring of 2012.

But family could also draw him to Miami. Martin's mother lives in south Florida and so does his oldest son for much of the year.

Martin recruits south Florida hard and already has two Miami high school seniors — point guard Angel Rodriguez and center Adrian Diaz — lined up to play at K-State next season. Former players Denis Clemente, Luis Colon and Freddy Asprilla were all recruited out of the same area.

" (Rodriguez) will follow Frank if he goes somewhere else," Alvarez said. "That's why he hasn't signed yet. Frank is the guy who recruited him. That's who he wants to play for."

Coaching in Miami would give Martin even stronger pull with Florida recruits.

Martin has shown an interest in coaching in the area before. He made a name for himself as a high school coach at Miami Senior High and interviewed for the coaching position at nearby Florida International, his alma mater, in 2004 before coming to K-State. Martin wasn't hired, but during a 2010 interview with the Eagle said, "It was a job I would have given my right arm for."

His priorities may have changed since, and the poor fan support at Miami, a football school, could be an issue. In Florida, college basketball takes a back seat to pro sports and college football. The Hurricanes routinely play in front of sparse crowds.

Miami is also currently working without an athletic director. Kirby Hocutt, a former K-State football player, left for Texas Tech last month, leaving school president Donna Shalala and interim athletic director Tony Hernandez to conduct the coaching search.

It could be difficult for any coach, Martin or otherwise, to make his pledge to a university without knowing who his full-time boss will be.

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