University of South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner has fired head men’s basketball coach Frank Martin after ten seasons at the helm of the program.
“After a thorough evaluation of our men’s basketball program, we have decided to make a change,” Tanner said in a statement released by the school. “We are grateful for the dedication that Coach Martin has made to Gamecock basketball. We wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”
According to Tanner, a “national search” for a new men’s basketball coach will begin immediately.
In keeping with Tanner’s abysmal management of the athletic department’s finances, the school will owe Martin a $3 million buyout after the results-challenged athletics director gave the 55-year-old coach a two-year contract extension last year – along with a raise that took his annual salary to $3.3 million.
Martin was fired after leading the Gamecocks to a disappointing 18-13 record during the 2021-2022 season – including a 9-9 mark in Southeastern Conference (SEC) play. He finishes his decade at the helm of the program with a 171-147 overall record and a 79-99 mark against SEC opponents.
He is the third-winningest coach in the history of the program, although given South Carolina’s historic struggles on the hardwood – that’s not exactly saying much.
The high point of Martin’s career in Columbia, S.C. was 2016-2017 season – when he took the program to unprecedented heights. Not only did South Carolina win its first NCAA tournament game in 44 years that season, Martin’s team made it all the way to the Final Four before falling to Gonzaga in the national semi-final game.
Since then, however, the program has struggled … with Martin growing increasingly frustrated.
South Carolina has yet to make it back to the NCAA tournament, although they came close in 2019-2020 prior to Covid-19 canceling the season.
A native of Miami, Martin spent five years at Kansas State prior to being hired at South Carolina. He posted a 117-54 record during his tenure in Manhattan – winning twenty games each season and leading the program to four NCAA tournament appearances.
Who will the Gamecocks hire to replace him?
“Our expectation is to compete for Southeastern Conference and national championships,” Tanner said. “We have great facilities, a passionate fan base and we provide our student-athletes an outstanding experience at the University of South Carolina. We will hire someone with a winning coaching history, who has the energy, passion, and commitment to excellence in all areas of the student-athlete experience.”
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton – a former Gamecock player – is a top candidate to replace Martin. So are Dennis Gates of Cleveland State and Matt McMahon of Murray State.
Sean Miller – former head coach at Arizona – is another intriguing option. Miller led his program to seven NCAA tournament appearances in eight seasons from 2011-2018, including three Elite Eight appearances. Miller has a cloud over him, however, after the NCAA accused two of his former assistant coaches of accepting cash bribes and obtaining fraudulent academic records for players.
Another possible option? Wake Forest assistant coach BJ McKie, who played four seasons at South Carolina – breaking the school’s all-time scoring mark held by former NBA star (and current South Carolina trustee) Alex English.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. Oh, he also has LOTS of hats … but has given them up for Lent this year.
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