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March 27, 2012

Frank Martin to be hired at South Carolina

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Kansas State's Frank Martin will be hired as South Carolina's basketball coach, two sources close to the situation have confirmed.

The sources, who are familiar with the negotiations, requested anonymity because they are not authorized to publically discuss the hiring.

The USC Board of Trustees has scheduled a conference-call meeting for 10 a.m. on Tuesday to discuss a "contractual matter." The Board has to approve Martin's contract before any official announcement is made.

USC has announced a press conference to "discuss the men's coaching situation" at Colonial Life Arena immediately following the Board meeting.

A source within USC's administration confirmed to GamecockCentral.com that a contract was sent to Martin on Friday, but had not been signed and returned. Martin was in New York on Saturday and Sunday helping with TV analysis of the NCAA tournament.

The contract has apparently been returned. While the hire won't be official until the contract is actually signed, one source close to Martin said that nothing should hold up Martin agreeing to the deal.

One source with knowledge of the negotiations said that Martin is expected to be paid between $1.75 and $2 million in his first year, with increments for each of the other years in the deal. The source said the contract is either five or six years.

Kansas State beat writer Kellis Robinett of The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle confirmed that Martin has agreed to a deal in principle to be the Gamecocks' coach.

GamecockCentral.com first reported that Martin was expressing heavy interest in the job on March 19. Sources confirmed on March 23 that Martin had interviewed in Columbia on March 19, despite Martin saying in a mass text message to several media outlets that he had not spoken to anyone.

The speculation began to quickly heat as the weekend progressed. Martin did not confirm or deny that he was a candidate at USC during his TV time, and also did not re-affirm any commitment to Kansas State.

Questioned about USC during the telecast, Martin sidestepped the issue. "In the age of social media that we live in right now, it's crazy," he said. "I was scheduled to be at a press conference (Saturday) in South Carolina and I was sitting watching a show in New York City last night. And obviously I'm sitting here with you guys today, so it's, The stuff that gets out these days, I look at it as a compliment that we're doing our job the right way at Kansas State that these sort of things get out."

Martin was referencing a basketball blog report that had him accepting the job and being introduced on Saturday. The report was quickly taken down when two things were pointed out - Martin was going to do TV in New York, and USC athletic director Eric Hyman was going to be in Fresno, Calif., on Saturday to watch the USC women's team play in the Sweet 16. Hyman confirmed that to GamecockCentral.com at USC's baseball game on Friday.

Martin never declared that he wasn't a candidate at USC, nor that he was pledging his commitment to Kansas State, such as another candidate on USC's list did on Saturday. Wichita State's Gregg Marshall announced through the school that he was staying with the Shockers, with a new contract coming but not finalized.

Martin was a candidate with heavy interest, and USC moved quickly to lock him down. He interviewed on March 19 and was offered the job soon after.

It is Hyman's second men's basketball coaching hire, and on the surface, it appears that is a home-run hire. Martin, despite only being a head coach for five years, has never missed the postseason and has never won less than 21 games per season.

Martin worked under Bob Huggins at Cincinnati and stayed for another season under interim coach Andy Kennedy, who went to Ole Miss following that year (while point guard Devan Downey transferred to USC). Martin went to Kansas State with Huggins and was elevated to head coach when Huggins resigned after a year to take the head spot at his alma mater, West Virginia.

Under Martin, the Wildcats have gone to four NCAA tournaments and one NIT, advancing to the Elite Eight of the 2010 tournament and winning 29 games. Kansas State was eliminated in the second round of this year's tournament by Syracuse, a game that had senior Jamar Samuels ruled ineligible less than a day before the game. Martin is the first coach in school history to post five straight 20-win seasons.

[ Reaction in Manhattan: The latest from GoPowercat.com ]

The pedigree is impressive and fits exactly into what Hyman stressed when he fired Horn on March 13. Hyman wanted someone who would be competitive and be a strong recruiter, which Martin is, and Hyman's previous hires have usually been young winners, which Martin also is.

USC is seeking a jump-start to its dormant basketball program, which has been searching for the sustained success it had under legendary coach Frank McGuire. The Gamecocks have only had spots of success under the six coaches since, going to a mere four NCAA tournaments in the 32 years since McGuire left and never winning a game. USC is 129-207 in the SEC since joining the league in 1992, with one regular-season championship and two SEC East titles. The Gamecocks are the only team in the current SEC to have never won the conference tournament, although they have twice appeared in the tournament championship game.

A native of Miami, Martin graduated from Florida International in 1993. He worked from 1985-2000 in the high-school ranks around Miami before landing his first assistant coaching job in college at Northeastern. Martin was there from 2000-04 before joining Huggins at Cincinnati.

Martin celebrated his 46th birthday on March 23.

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