Frank Martin is the new head coach of South Carolina, a move that became official today. Martin’s contract is a six-year deal worth $12.3 million in all.
The former Kansas State head coach said he hadn’t spoken to anyone about a potential job as of last Friday, and told ESPN.com on Monday that the talks began on Saturday while Martin was on the set of CBS’ NCAA-tournament coverage.
However, K-State athletic director John Currie said that South Carolina athletic director Eric Hyman asked K-State on Friday for permission to speak to the Wildcats’ head coach. And on that same day, Martin informed Currie that if South Carolina offered him the job, he was going to accept it.
When Martin called to inform Currie Monday afternoon of his decision to leave, the K-State athletic director said he asked if he could persuade him to stay.
“I asked him if there’s anything we could do?” Currie said Tuesday. “He really felt that it was a time to make a change. He and his family needed to make a change and this was the appropriate time to do so.”
Numerous sources have told The Mercury that Currie’s and Martin’s relationship was not on good terms, though Currie denied that, saying the pair had “a strong relationship.”
K-State president Kirk Schulz said Currie and Martin’s working relationship has been inaccurately portrayed by the media.
“I don’t think that’s a fair characterization,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that’s been the way it’s been portrayed over the last three or four days.”
In fact, Currie said that eight weeks ago he informed Martin he’d like to talk to him about a contract extension that included a significant pay increase.
“We had budgeted a significant enhancement to his contract,” Currie said. “He asked that we wait till the end of the season to discuss it in earnest. He wanted to focus on our team.”
Martin leaves K-State with the second-highest winning percentage since Hall of Fame coach Tex Winter, and leaves the Wildcats’ administration with the tall task of replacing the face of the program who brought national attention to K-State. But Schulz and Currie wanted to make it clear that K-State is a good job that coaches should want.
“I want to ask the K-State faithful to rally around whoever our new coach is,” Schulz said. “I certainly understand the anger with us losing a very popular coach. But we have an $18 million state-of-the-art facility that opens this summer. We have a very competitive salary, and a passionate and dedicated fan base.
“Folks, this is a great situation for a new coach to come into. Now is the time to help John and support K-State athletics as we bring in a great person to lead our men’s basketball program.”