If you believe Frank Martin, than his decision to leave Kansas State for South Carolina had nothing to do with a fractured relationship with the administration at the school.
”I was happy there. Obviously, there’s a team in place that can challenge for that Big 12 championship,” Martin told the AP. ”We left a lot of good behind. You don’t do that because you’re unhappy.”
According to Martin, his decision was based the passion he felt from the South Carolina administrators to win and the accessibility of his hometown (Miami) and his wife’s hometown (New York) from South Carolina.
”I’m just telling you, (Gamecocks AD) Eric Hyman put his arms around me and it was hard for me not to feel the passion that he had for building the men’s basketball program,” Martin said. ”I’ve never been through this before.”
I like Frank Martin. I like the way he runs a program and I like the way he sticks up for his players. He’s tough and he demands perfection from his players, but the genuinely emotional responses he’s had in press conferences the past two NCAA tournaments (one time defending Jacob Pullen when his senior was crying after his final loss as a collegian and the other when he choked up talking about Jamar Samuels, who was suspended for his final game as a Wildcat) should tell you just how much he cares about those kids.
But I simply am not buying what he’s selling.
It’s not a secret that Martin wasn’t happy about the way the Samuels’ suspension was handed down. According to a column from Austin Meek of the Topeka Capital-Journal, the suspension went down like this:
K-State had just finished a film session the night before the Wildcats were to face No. 1 seed Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament. That’s when Currie approached Martin and, according to sources familiar with the conversation, informed him senior Jamar Samuels wouldn’t play after accepting a $200 wire transfer from a former AAU coach.
Martin was upset by the decision, the timing and the fact that he wasn’t given a chance to voice his opinion. After K-State lost 75-59 to Syracuse the next day, Martin didn’t hide his displeasure during the postgame news conference.
“He has, in my opinion, done nothing wrong,” Martin said, referring to Samuels. “You always have to err on the side of caution and not do something and look back on it and then regret your decision.
“Please don’t ask me any questions on it, because I had nothing to do with the decision. Any questions pertaining to this matter, please direct to John Currie, my boss.”
Given that their relationship was already strained due to what Martin reportedly believed were salaries that were too low for his staff — and based on the reports that Martin flirted heavily with Miami when their head coaching position came open last summer — I find it very difficult to believe that Martin’s relationship with Currie had nothing to do with his decision to leave.
I know why Martin said what he said. Anyone that has any experience in any professional field understands the importance of networking and keeping your bridges from being burned. As a public figure, it is always better to smile and play nice than to let loose with the vitriol in a public forum.
Martin said all the right things.
Doesn’t mean I have to believe them.