Somewhere in the mix of rumors and reports is the truth about a link between Kansas State men’s basketball head coach Frank Martin and the South Carolina Gamecocks athletic department. Martin explains that he’s spoken with no one about any new job, so it’s likely the interest in one-sided at this point. But it’s clear that Martin is a wanted man.
This happens year after year after making K-State into a solid, stable program that wins 22-plus games and advances at least one or two rounds into the tournament. For a man playing second fiddle under the looming shadow of Bill Self’s top ranked program in Lawrence, Martin has done a fine job. It’s the reason that South Carolina has reportedly come calling — likely with a lot of money in tow.
That said there’s no good reason on the surface why Martin would want to leave for the Gamecocks. They won 10 games last season and would require Martin to learn an entirely new region of the country. You can’t put a price on contacts in the game of recruiting and Martin would be starting from scratch. That said, everyone has their price .
But what if there was something underneath the surface for Martin — an emotion pitting him against his employer. Kellis Robinett of the Kansas City Star mentions this possibility when it comes to the school’s treatment of Jamar Samuels in the tournament:
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 NCAA Tournament game against Syracuse, which K-State lost.
Samuels, sources said, was wired $200 by his former AAU coach. Currie said he found out about the possible NCAA violation between the Wildcats’ first and second NCAA Tournament games and made the decision to suspend Samuels.
Martin was very emotional after the game and the press conference was broadcasted everywhere for one reason — the touching authenticity of a coach who truly feels for his players. It’s clear he cares for Samuels, and it’s possible to read between the lines that he believed Samuels was treated unfairly. Enough to leave his job? That seems a bit dramatic yet it’s impossible to know all of the variables that might be at play.
That said, for now these are just rumors and this is not the first time or the first year that Martin has been included in them. He was mentioned for the Illinois opening and he’ll continue to be included in others. It comes with the program — a winning one — that he’s established at K-State.
For more on the Kansas State basketball program, check out Bring On The Cats.