Frank Martin says he has not spoken with South Carolina about its basketball coaching vacancy, but a media report Friday evening said the Gamecocks have asked Kansas State for permission to speak with Martin.
Martin texted to The Eagle, “I have not talked 2 anyone.”
He texted from New York, where he said he was watching the Broadway show “Jersey Boys” with his family prior to being an NCAA Tournament analyst for CBS this weekend. All the while, Internet speculation heated up about the possibility of Martin, who guided K-State to 22 wins and a third-round appearance in the NCAA Tournament, showing interest in South Carolina.
Martin’s denial contradicts a report by South Carolina’s Rivals.com website that said Martin interviewed earlier this week. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he has no interest in the opening, and The Sporting News cited anonymous sources saying South Carolina asked K-State for permission to speak with him. Neither Currie nor a K-State spokesperson responded to messages asking to confirm the report.
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Martin is scheduled to begin negotiations on a new K-State contract on April 1 with athletic director John Currie, but a source close to the basketball program said Martin was “very upset” with Currie’s decision to hold senior Jamar Samuels out of last week’s third-round game against Syracuse.
Samuels, sources said, was wired $200 by his former AAU coach. Currie has said he found out about the possible NCAA violation between the Cats’ second- and third-round games and made the decision to suspend Samuels.
Currie and Martin have never shared a deep connection. Some have argued Martin might be frustrated enough to look elsewhere.
"That is a legitimate concern," said a source close to Martin.
Still, South Carolina raises a few eyebrows. Though it would allow Martin to move closer to his hometown of Miami, and put him in the SEC with life-long coaching friends Andy Kennedy and Anthony Grant, it is a job with little recent success. The Gamecocks fired Darrin Horn after they won 10 games and finished last in the SEC this season. K-State, by comparison, returns all but one scholarship player next season.
Martin is in the middle of a contract that pays him $1.55 million per year and runs through 2015. By finishing tied for third in the Big 12 standings in 2010-11, he triggered a renegotiation clause. If a new arrangement is not met by June 1, Martin’s buyout to leave K-State would drop from $1 million to $500,000.
When contacted Thursday, Martin’s agent, Richard Katz, said he was working with Martin on how to approach those talks. He said he had not spoken with Currie. When asked about South Carolina, he said, “I read the same rumors you do.”
If South Carolina begin formal talks with Martin, it won’t be the first time Martin has been involved in another coaching search. Sources said Martin turned down offers from DePaul and Oregon following K-State’s run to the Elite Eight in 2010. Sources said both schools offered as much as $2 million per year.
Last season, he was linked to openings at UNLV and Miami. He did little to end speculation about him accepting those jobs, but never appeared to be a serious candidate.
Minnesota coach Tubby Smith, Harvard coach Tommy Amaker and Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall have also been mentioned as possibilities for the South Carolina job.