COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina has hired Frank Martin to revitalize its basketball program.
School trustees approved a six-year contract worth more than $2 million a year on average Tuesday morning.
“You have to do your due diligence, and quite frankly, I think we got the right person in Frank Martin,” South Carolina athletic director Eric Hyman said.
South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier and two-time defending national championship baseball coach Ray Tanner came to Martin’s introduction. Hyman hopes Martin can have the same winning impact on the basketball team.
Martin replaces Darrin Horn, who was fired two weeks ago after going 60-63 over four seasons.
The former Kansas State coach has reached four NCAA tournaments in his five seasons with the Wildcats and will take over a team that finished dead last in the Southeastern Conference last season. The Gamecocks have been to the NCAA tournament just once since 1998. They finished this season 10-21 and 2-14 in the SEC.
Martin will make $1.9 million next season, $2 million the year after that and $2.1 million the remaining years of the contract.
The son of Cuban immigrants, Martin coached high school basketball in Miami for 15 years and was an assistant at Northeastern for four seasons before Bob Huggins added him to his staff at Cincinnati. Martin credits Huggins with jumpstarting his career, saying the current coach at West Virginia helped him get into college coaching.
South Carolina will be a rebuilding job.
The team’s record got progressively worse during Horn’s four years. Their top player, point guard and two-sport high school star Bruce Ellington, originally promised to only play basketball next season, but after Horn was fired, he started hanging around the football field during spring practice.
Several other players could consider transfers as Martin’s intense coaching style is a stark contrast from the laidback approach favored by Horn, who is owed a $2.4 million buyout.