Just days before the Frank Martin to South Carolina talk really heated up, the Kansas State coach was letting it be known to others that there was a chance he wouldn’t be back at K-State next season
“I spoke to him last week, after the (NCAA) tournament, telling him congratulations on another great year,” Kansas head coach Self said. “He told me this could be a possibility. I don’t know what the situation is down there, but I think he left a good situation, so he must feel this is a really good situation for him personally.”
Martin, who led K-State to four NCAA tournaments in five years, said this was the most difficult decision he’s ever made.
“This decision is the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my life,” Martin said in a teleconference yesterday. “Making those phone calls was the most difficult thing I’ve done professionally in my whole life. I had to act in a selfish way and that was hard for me to do, because that’s not something I practice.
“Visiting with those guys and just their understanding of my decision allowed it to be a lot easier for me. They’re unbelievable kids — Jordan (Henriquez), Martavious (Irving), Rodney (McGruder). It’s hard to tell those guys that I needed a new challenge. But they were awesome.”
Martin said the challenge of rebuilding the South Carolina basketball program was something he wanted to take on.
“Just new challenge,” he said, when asked what drew him to the new job. “When I visited with Eric Hyman, the athletic director at South Carolina, the passion that he had for his men’s basketball program, for this university, I just enjoyed that visit. I just had to make a decision.
“In life, you go through things, and sometimes for no reason whatsoever, a new opportunity, a new challenge, gets put in front of you. You make a choice. That doesn’t mean that one choice is better than the other or one place is worse than the other. It has nothing to do with that. It’s just there’s a challenge.”
Contrary to reports, Martin said he and K-State athletic director John Currie had a great relationship. Currie also said on Tuesday that he and Martin had a strong relationship.
“I understand people always try to find something wrong with every decision that everyone makes rather than just take it for what it is — somebody making a decision,” Martin said. “John has been great. John has given me everything that our staff has asked for, for us to do our job. John has reinvigorated the athletic department at Kansas State University. He’s improved it in every shape and fashion. It’s unfortunate that I make a difficult decision and everyone has to figure out a way to blame somebody for the decision. That’s not fair to anybody.”
Currie said on Tuesday that he made a concerted effort to persuade Martin to stay, something Martin confirmed.
“K-State let me know that they wanted me to stay,” he said. “That was never a doubt in my mind. That part there was never something that I wondered about. They made that clear as day.”
Martin said he will always have fond memories of K-State and Manhattan — a place he spent six years of his life.
“I’m fortunate that Kansas State believed in me five years ago and gave me an opportunity,” he said. “Without Kansas State, the people, the administration, the fans, the players, this moment would have never happened for me. My youngest son was born in Manhattan, Kansas, so that’s always going to be my first school. That’s a place that will always be very dear to me and where my family has many, many lifelong friendships.”