Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall has reached an oral agreement to remain at the school, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the situation.
The university has not released details of the agreement. Multiple sources said that Marshall’s new deal will reach approximately $3 million. According to USA Today’s database of salaries, that would rank Marshall among the top 10 men’s college basketball coaches nationally.
Marshall, according to a source, canceled plans for a trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala., later this week.
Alabama had targeted Marshall as its No. 1 choice to replace Anthony Grant over the past week. On Monday, athletic director Bill Battle spent around eight hours in Wichita after flying to Jabara Airport in a private jet. That kicked off a nervous 48 hours in Wichita. Just as momentum appeared to leaning toward Marshall departing for Alabama, Wichita State’s effort to keep him paid off Wednesday night.
Add Alabama to the list of high-profile schools that includes North Carolina State, Missouri, UCLA, California and others who, in varying degrees, tried to big-time muscle out Wichita State. WSU, with its combination of resources, passion for basketball and supportive, creative athletic director and administration, keeps winning those battles.
Wednesday afternoon, Yahoo.com’s Pat Forde reported that Marshall and his family were considering a Friday trip to Tuscaloosa. Alabama, according to Forde, was offering nearly $4 million. Sources at Wichita State and close to the program say the offer was $4.2 million, perhaps as high as $4.9 million, for six years.
Marshall, 52, makes a base salary of $1.85 million, plus bonuses, at WSU. He is on a seven-year rollover contract with a buyout of $400,000 that drops to $300,000 on April 15.
He has guided WSU to four straight NCAA Tournaments with a Final Four in 2013, a No. 1 seed in 2014 and the Sweet 16 this season. He is 204-75 in eight seasons at WSU. In nine seasons at Winthrop, he went 194-83 with seven NCAA trips.
Battle released a statement Wednesday night that said he respected Marshall’s decision and wished him and his family the best.
“I remain determined to bring to our program a proven head coach with impressive credentials,” he said.
While Alabama offered financial clout and conference affiliation that WSU likely can’t match, it didn’t appear to offer features that separate it from other high-profile schools that Marshall has turned away in recent seasons.
Marshall’s name is annually connected to openings, and Wichita State athletic director Eric Sexton acknowledged last week that WSU can’t win a bidding war with schools from high-profile conferences, should it come to that. So far, WSU’s combination of fan support, emphasis on basketball and comfortable working conditions have been enough to keep Marshall happy through eight seasons.
Marshall’s family enjoys Wichita, its schools and their friends, they have said. The happiness of Lynn Marshall and children Kellen and Maggie have always played a role in Gregg Marshall’s decisions and explain, in part, why he remained at Winthrop and Wichita State when tempted with other offers.
“If it ends up being about money, then there is some point that number is not attainable and wouldn’t be financially responsible,” Sexton said last week. “But there are so many other things that add up to what is a great job opportunity. We try to pay attention to all of those things.”
While ESPN reported Wednesday afternoon that WSU was working on an enhanced contract to keep Marshall, those efforts are a year-round job, and a raise was long ago in the plans. While the events of the past week might have added urgency, the groundwork for fundraising and imaginative assets for the program is laid over many months. As Sexton described last week, his department is regularly looking for ways to improve men’s basketball and make it difficult for Marshall to find a better situation.
“We always are paying attention,” Sexton said.
Marshall’s most consistent standard for a new job is that it not be a rebuilding situation. Alabama went 19-15 this season, 32-34 the past two seasons and 117-85 in Grant’s six seasons. Grant made three NIT appearances and grabbed an NCAA berth in 2012.
At Texas, multiple reports indicated that Virginia Commonwealth University coach Shaka Smart is discussing the job there. CBSsports.com reported that Texas officials are optimistic. On Wednesday evening, the Washington Post reported that VCU athletic director Ed McLaughlin told the newspaper that Smart is still coach of the Rams.