Frank Martin was introduced as the new head coach of South Carolina men's basketball
March 27, 2012
UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT HARRIS PASTIDES
I want the coach to know that when I was elected President of this great university, on that day there wasn't half the press corps we have today. I met Anya and Frank Martin late last evening at the President's House on the Horseshoe. They didn't come in the front door. They came through the kitchen (because) there was so much anticipation. Within the first five minutes of meeting them I knew they were already part of the Gamecock family. It's going to be hard for you to get the coach to talk about anything other than his players. They are his family. We're honored to have Anya and Frank Martin join the Fighting Gamecocks.
ATHLETIC DIRECTOR ERIC HYMAN
It's a great day to be a Gamecock. It's a great day to be a Gamecock. We are committed to having a viable men's basketball program. We want to have a basketball program that mirrors what we've been able to do in football, women's basketball and baseball. We are committed to doing that. Searches today are very difficult; the high visible searches. I reflected back during this process, 15 years ago you could bring a coach and his family, people would come in and visit with the search committee, it would be open, you could go to the President's office and the school cafeteria and the people in the athletic department, and it was easier than it is today. Today people tweet what you do. You almost have to major in the CIA. A lot of covert activities going on. You end up using headhunters. You want to get the best potential candidate to coach the basketball program.
On the search process
What I say to you as far as a process is concerned, it was one of the most diverse pool of candidates. There was a lot of interest and excitement for this position. When we got started, I stat down with a high school coach, a former coach here and a former player. I wanted to get the perspective of the South Carolina basketball program. If you look back through the history of South Carolina, there have been some unbelievable years as far as players that came out of South Carolina high schools. If you look back at Frank McGuire's era, a lot of players were out of state. You look at Dave Odom's era, and a lot of players were out of state. You look at Eddie Fogler's era, we had players from the state. But you also have to be able to recruit outside the state. That's why we have Coach Martin here today, because of his unbelievable contacts. He is a proven recruiter. I totally anticipate him to be able to take that talent to the University of South Carolina.
During that (search) process, it's obviously a condensed time. You can't raise the red flags and antennas that might hurt potential candidates out there. I talked to high school coaches, former players, current assistant coaches at the college level and current head coaches at the college level. I talked to the NCAA, I talked to shoe reps and conference office personnel, athletic directors, agents, current players and even to the extent of talking to trainers around the country because I wanted to get the right person at the University of South Carolina. Quite frankly, I think we got the right person.
On Frank Martin
If you look at the narrative of Frank Martin, one night I got on the computer looking at who is Frank Martin. Five years. He's taken every team as a head coach to postseason competition. He's never lost the first round. He has a record of 117-54 overall. He has a record of 50-32 in a really tough league. Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Baylor, those are very good basketball schools. In the five years that he was at Kansas State, it's the most successful five-year period in the history of the school in men's basketball. He was runner-up for National Coach of the Year. He was the Big 12 Coach of the Year. He's had four All-Americans since becoming a head coach. This season, 14 out of 15 (home) games were sellouts. He finished in the top four in the league four out of five years in the Big 12. As I told (President) Pastides, one of the most impressive things he accomplished was off the basketball court. He improved the APR by 195 points. If you really want to know who is Frank Martin, this is what I wrote down. He's sincere, he's loyal, he's personable. He's a hard worker and a helluva recruiter. He's a basketball coach. Yes he's fiery and very animated, but he's down to Earth and develops relationships. He's highly respected nationally. The true coach in the family is Anya. She's a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, a track athlete and former track coach. They will bring three young children, ages 13, 16 and four. We really want to welcome Coach Martin to the South Carolina family, to Gamecock Nation. We couldn't be more pleased to have someone of his success, caliber and commitment to get South Carolina basketball on the same level Steve Spurrier has his program, Dawn Staley has her program and Ray Tanner has his program.
HEAD COACH FRANK MARTIN
Thank you so much. First things first I have to say thank you to Kansas State and that community, those administrators, that fan base and those players that all believed in who I was. They gave me an opportunity. They believed in our staff to give us what we needed to win. Those kids that believed in us and our message to play for us. Because of that collective effort, it has given me an opportunity to be in front of you today and be so excited about leading that Gamecock charge to elevate our basketball program here where it needs to be.
Eight years ago I was an assistant coach at Northeastern. I got a phone call on a Friday afternoon. The phone call, as an assistant coach, you never know what that next step is. It was Bob Huggins, and in the middle of the conversation he said, "Frank, I have unbelievable trust in you. I'm hiring an assistant. I need a guy I can trust." I said to him, "Hugs, I told you for many years if you never need me I'm here." He said I need you. At the present time when I was having that conversation, I was at a restaurant in Boston. Across from me was Anya. We were not married at the time. During that conversation, I hung up, accepted the job and said I'd be there Monday. Later on that day she looked at me bewildered. She had her own career. She said to me, "Are you planning to keep me as a part of your dream." It was that moment that told me this is the one. This is who needs to be my wife. She's the one that's going to keep me straight. I know the public persona is that I'm difficult. Look at her. If she even looks at me, I'm running. I can't be more thankful to have such an incredible wife like her that understands what we do (and) that's willing to be a part of it. That's engaging. I'm extremely thankful to her.
Eddie Fogler who was responsible for Coach Huggins getting the job at Kansas State six years ago, over the last six years we developed a friendship. I can't explain ... I said a while ago that I'm exhausted from the last three days, but I was so excited I couldn't sleep last night. I'm just thankful for Eddie Fogler for our friendship and for believing in me. Richard Katz, my attorney, who over the years has become a loyal friend and unbelievable person as I've walked through this path that only God knows is in front of us. As you great folks get to know me and my family, what you see in six seconds on ESPN is nothing like I really am. Bret has become an important part of my professional team to help me correct that. He's solely responsible for getting me on CBS this past weekend. I'm very thankful for that group of people.
On his work at Kansas State
Two years ago when Jacob Pullen was a senior, that group of guys left as the winningest players in the history of Kansas State. This past year, Jamar Samuels and Vic Ojeleye, now they left as the winningest players in the history of Kansas State basketball. Nothing good is accomplished without those kids being committed to the mission. Without them having a great experience and trust in what has happened. That's the only way we can all succeed, is by attacking that mission united. We live in an age where we all get judged on wins and losses. I understand that. I'm a big boy, I get it. To me it's about people. It's about kids. It's deeper. I believe we take care of all the important things and help prepare them to become men so when they're done with their experience, they're ready to become a husband, an employee, a father. You take care of all those things; the scoreboard takes care of itself. I never focus on the score. I never focus on the negative emotion. It's all about getting ready for the next challenge. That's the way we do it. To go from a place where I got hired, our APR was 857 to what it is today 960. It's a credit to he academic folks, those kids and our staff that united. We've had the right kids do the right things around the right people. We also had the best graduation rate in the Big 12 in my five years there. We had one young man who left without getting his degree in our time there. He was one class short. He's playing professionally in Latvia.
On the South Carolina administration
(I thank) Dr. Pastides for having the confidence of turning over the keys to this program to me and to the mission that we have at hand. I'm all about being honest. I'm all about loyalty. I never forget people that believe in me. I remember my first year, the life expectancy, over/under on how long my career would last was probably days. Here we are five years later and the confidence Dr. Pastides has shown to believe in my family to be the leaders in charge of this program is something I'll never forget. Our board, to be in agreement and collectively united to give me the opportunity, I say thank you. Obviously the gentleman to my left, Eric Hyman, in my conversations with him the last two days, the thing I could not step away from was his sincerity, the family atmosphere with which he runs this program athletically and the way it's connected to the university. That's what I'm about. His belief in me, it's hard to look past that. It's hard to not be willing to be a part of that. It's the same values I try to live my life by. It was an immediate feel on my part that I wanted to be a part of this.
On his comments over the weekend on CBS
Before I get into the direction and where I'm at with things, I want to clarify something. I was given an unbelievable opportunity this past weekend on CBS Sports. On Saturday I made some comments. I respect everything. Everyone has a profession, and I have tremendous respect for everyone in their profession. I made some comments about my experience as a high school coach. The next day the headlines say Frank Martin pays players. That's not what I said. We have to understand I spent 16 years of my life coaching high school basketball as a school teacher in the same inner-city community I grew up in. There were cheerleaders, band members, kids in my math class, played who played for me that I became their father figure just like teachers at that school were my father figure growing up because I didn't have a father at home. When those kids took the next step to get to college, they didn't have five dollars when they got to college. Our relationship was so strong that they had to come to myself or different administrators in the school building because we were their family. (Their relatives) depended on us to help them raise that child. Those are the values of America and the school system that have gone away. But that's a different animal. We can attack that a different day. I don't like that things are used in a way that's different than it's meant. I never paid a player in my life. Abiding by rules is something (I do). (Eric Hyman and Harris Pastides) have my word that surprises will never happen and rules will always be accepted.
On choosing to come to South Carolina
Outside of that I can't tell you how excited I am. I love challenges. Some people run away from challenges. I run to challenges. I've been doing it my whole life. It's what I'm excited about. A lot of credit to Darrin Horn. He has put in some fundamental basics and responsibilities in place that makes this job doable. It's never easy, but he did a lot of good. There are good kids in the program that have been held accountable and represented this school well in every way except the in win column. It is my duty to complete that part. As Eric and I spoke, there are some things that jumped out. There were also other things that I step back and look at. I saw Steve Spurrier, Ray Tanner and Dawn Staley. I said those are three people that can coach anywhere in the country. They have unbelievable credentials. Yet they've chosen South Carolina. They've chosen the University of South Carolina. All three have one thing in common. They win. They don't just win games; they win. They win every day. I kept looking at that and said I want this challenge. I want to lead the men's basketball team to the same place that these people are leading their respective programs.
On South Carolina history
The history here is incredible. I'm big on history and using traditions to sell your program. In recruiting you can sell a dream, but if it's a dream you better hope someone is willing to believe in it. When you sell tradition and reality, that makes recruiting a heckuva lot easier. It's been proven that it's been done before. That's what we'll do here at South Carolina. Whether it's names like Bobby Cremins, Eddie Fogler, Brian Winters, Zam Fredrick, or Alex English. Or a man I got to coach in Devan Downey. BJ McKie. I don't care who they are. We'll use those people and reconnect them to our program. Those names had tremendous success in their time here and after. They take pride in being a Gamecock. It's my job to make them connected to help us recruit the next one. When you show them its been done before, that's not a dream anymore. It's reality.
On the type of team he guarantees
I don't promise things. Five-year plan, three-year plan. As an old high school coach, I never understood what that meant. The only thing I promise is our guys will be held accountable every day for what they're responsible for. Whether it's an academic responsibility, a community responsibility because our guys will be in the community. They'll be in the elementary schools and doing projects to make this world a better place so they understand the importance of impacting people. The only thing I promise as your basketball coach is that every time we take the floor we'll play the game the right way. We will compete. I tell guys when you finish college and become a man, you have to do your job as a husband, father and employee 365 days a year. As a college athlete, basketball in specific, if you're lucky you get an opportunity to do it 35 times a year. What kind of man does that make us if we can't sacrifice to do our jobs to the best of our abilities 35 times a year compared to 365 when they step away from college. That's a message we never stop delivering. Our guys will be known as the hardest playing guys in America. Our guys will compete. We will rebound, defend and run. That's a guarantee I give you.
With that comes our fans. We want to play hard and passionate. When fans pay their dollars they earned to watch a game, there's nothing that upsets me more than when a team doesn't put it all on the line. Our guys will compete and play the game the right way. I have no wiggle room on that one. Our fans will enjoy our style of play and we will put 18,0000 people in this arena. I have one question that's in my mind about South Carolina basketball in their recent history. Since I coached Devan (Downey) a year and got to know him, I started to watch him when he transferred here. I'll never forget the atmosphere when they beat Kentucky in this building. I know it will happen. There's no doubt in my mind it will happen. It's just a mater of starting to play the game a certain way, and we will stick 18,000 in this building and make it the hardest arena in the country for anyone to play.
On the process becoming the new head coach
The last 48 hours have been crazy. I'll give you a quick story. All you folks know I was doing live studio work this weekend. Friday night I was sitting with my wife watching Jersey Boys. I'm getting all these texts about being at a press conference on Saturday. I said are you kidding me. How can I be there if I'm doing CBS work. Obviously this intensified. We're going to play basketball the way Eric Hyman full court pressed me the last 48 hours. That's how we'll play basketball. Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Greg Anthony, I don't want to put their dirty laundry out there, but on Sunday they all threatened to fine me and hurt me if I didn't say yes to this. That's the kind of respect that South Carolina basketball has in those peoples eyes.
On the decision to leave Kansas State for South Carolina
That's the most difficult thing I've ever had to do in my life was make this decision. When I had to speak to Rodney McGruder and Jordan Henriquez and those guys and tell them I was making this decision, it was hard because I was making a selfish decision because that's great place with great people and fans. It's a place that gave me my first opportunity ever. Some people are good dancing around stuff. I stink at that. I'm a straight shooter. I couldn't get past the enthusiasm and desire that Eric Hyman has for this basketball program. I like challenges. I get invigorated by a challenge. Getting this program back to where it belongs is something I embraced.
Here's how I approach who I am every day. With my job situation there are a lot of critics and positive people. I understand both. I don't fight to make the critics change their mind. I fight every day to do my job to the best of my abilities for the people that believe in me. That's my thought process. I know based on what ESPN likes to put out there that a lot of people think I'm negative. I'm one of the most positive people you'll ever come across. Connecting wit the community the fastest I can is the important thing to me.
On getting the fans back behind the basketball program
It all starts with how we play the game. I can stand up here and talk until we're all blue in the face. At the end of the day it's about us going out there and playing the game the right way and winning. When you do that people get excited. It starts with season ticket sales. It's our job to excite our fans and alums. We want 18,000 people on that roller coaster ride with us. It won't always be great, but when you hit the bottom of the roller coaster you know that turns coming to set you right back up. It's going to be fun. Selling this arena out falls on our staff and players doing their job correctly.
On where he got his philosophies
It's where I was in 1985 when I accepted my first coaching job. I've never deviated from that. Holding kids accountable. I think the misconception out there is that we blame kids for lacking discipline. Don't blame kids. It's also adults that don't hold kids accountable that teaches them not to be disciplined. We keep putting the onus on the kids. I'm passionate and not scared to be honest. I'm the same human being. I don't care if there's one camera or 500 cameras. I'm not going to change my persona. Tom Brady had one of the greatest quotes of all time. You remember when the offensive coordinator came and started screaming at him because he threw an interception in the end zone. This day and age people say how do you do that to Tom Brady. After the game, Tom Brady said it is (the offensive coordinator's) job to tell me when I do something stupid. That's his job. It's so refreshing to hear that from an athlete. That's my job. It's my job to make them do things right and hold them accountable. I tell you this, if they need me at 2 a.m., I don't need to think about it. I'm there. I don't care about the final sore of the game. I care about the final score in life. I want those kids to succeed at life.
On being self aware about his public actions
It's not change who I am. It's evolve. This year I took a stance publicly. It was about my use of foul language on the sideline. There's no place for that. It's a competitive world. It's something that can easily slip. I tell people all the time when IBM has differences meetings with there leaders, behind closed doors I guarantee there's words you don't want people to here. Our meetings are games. So it's competitive. But I took a stance on that because that can't happen. I came home one day - it's something I've fought for 27 years - I came home (after a game) and my four-year old said, "Daddy you said a bad word." I told myself, "Frank, there's other kids back there too. That has to stop." I'm not trying to change public perception for me. That made me understand that if my passion gets to a certain point, it will negatively impact my kids, the university and people that believe in me.
On putting together a staff
I'm going to visit with the staff that's in place right now here. Tomorrow I'll start visiting with them in person. I've been in their shoes. It's a lonely place to be. I'll never forget what it feels like to be in that moment. I've been in that situation when a possible head coach came in and refused to see any of us. I don't forget those things. I will visit with them and make those decisions accordingly. My previous staff, I'll speak to them today. I'm telling you, Eric's full court press is incredible. The last two days have been so consuming, I didn't even tell my mom until last night. Our staff back home understands. I'll visit with them and with our staff here. I'll make those decisions as this week continues here. I have tremendous respect for the guys that were here for me.
On the atmosphere at Colonial Life Arena
I don't want our fans to sit and fold their arms. I want our fans to lose their minds and be passionate in the right way - with respect to the opponent and cheer for our guys because they appreciate the way our staff coaches and the way our players play. We have to do our job and that will all take care of itself. I'm not trying to change who I am; I'm trying to evolve as a human being. That passion is with me until they day they put me under.
On his experiences in the state of South Carolina
I've been to Columbia once before. It was years ago. I was driving to Pittsburgh. I spent the night in Columbia. It was 1997 maybe. I was on my way to work a five star camp and stopped through here. I've been fortunate in my high school years because I went out and worked a lot of basketball camps. I was involved in AAU basketball. I didn't just coach 20 high school games a year. It was a yearlong job for me. Because of that I got to meet an unbelievable amount of people across the country, including the state of South Carolina. I have a tremens amount of respect for the basketball played at the grassroots level in the sate of South Carolina. The talent pool here is something that we need to keep these kids home. The details are something I have to be vague about, but what Eric Hyman says is true. Recruiting in basketball has become a national thing. Kids are willing to get up and leave. Here you have to protect your home court. You have to be sure to embrace the people in your back yard and get them to want to grow up to be a South Carolina Gamecock. Let's not forget that this is THE University of South Carolina.
On meeting with the team and Bruce Ellington
This morning I visited with the team for 20 minutes, 30 minutes. Just kind of a get to know each other deal. I know who Bruce is. I remember watching Bruce play when he was in the AAU circuit. We all go recruiting and go to the same events. When the time is right over the next days, as I continue to allow him to get to know me, we'll cross these bridges as we move forward. I'm excited about him and the other kids in that locker room. It has a whole lot of positives. Now we have to get that together and go win some games.
On his background as a high school coach and teacher
When I first was granted an opportunity five years ago, I just sat back. I guess some coaches say they don't read or listen. I do. Everyone referred to me as he's nothing but a high school coach. They were all trying to use it in a way to be derogatory. To say that I'm ignorant. What they didn't understand is they were paying me the biggest compliment because as a high school coach I was an educator. I get out of bed every morning and have one thought in my mind: what do I have to do today to positively influence those young men that believe in me. That is my daily agenda. As a high school teacher and coach, you have to deal with 13-year old kids and 18-year old kids. You have to get them to understand what it takes to succeed in college. Being a teacher is what I'm about.
On the reaction he has received about the decision
Unbelievable (reaction). Bobby Cremins called yesterday with Barry Clark and was just ecstatic for his alma mater and for me to become a part of his alma mater. People that are dear to me. Anthony Grant at Alabama, we are high school grads and he's godfather to my oldest son. He said, "Frank, our league just got better." Across the board and from national media people, the feedback that's gotten back to me has been humbling. I'm kind of embarrassed that so many people are so happy for me. That tells me what a special place this is.
On his relationship with Kansas State Athletic Director John Currie
We live in a society where everyone always looks for a problem. When Syracuse beat us, everyone said what did you do wrong. Sometimes the other team is just better than you. That administration has been phenomenal. I can't be more thankful for the way that that administration treated us. They gave us what we needed. It's unfortunate that because of social media stuff that people make comments and it becomes a firestorm. If the people who reported that ever went in meetings between Currie and I, I think their opinion would be different.