South Carolina Gamecocks men's basketball coach Frank Martin on NCAA decision: 'It is a win'
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Martin on NCAA decision: 'It is a win'

On Thursday, a book Frank Martin really wanted to end was finally closed.

The NCAA officially ruled this week on the Gamecocks’ notice of allegations stemming from the FBI’s probe into college basketball and handed down a rather favorable decision for the Gamecocks.

South Carolina avoided major sanctions from basketball’s governing body, giving the Gamecocks something they’ve wanted for a while: closure.

Photo by Chris Gillespie
Photo by Chris Gillespie

“I said from the very beginning of this in September of 2017: we don’t cheat. That’s not who we are. That’s not how I do things. I don’t tolerate it; Ray Tanner doesn’t tolerate it,” Martin said Thursday on his call-in show. “After being around president Caslen the last two years he doesn’t tolerate it. Our compliance people do unbelievable things. You might criticize me for a lot of things but if you know anything about me cheating ain’t one of them.”

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The investigation into the Gamecock basketball program sprang from former assistant Lamont Evans accepting bribes between $3,300 and $5,800 from a professional agent.

Martin maintained for a long time the university wasn’t complicit in any of Evans’s dealings, saying it was him acting on his own volition, and it looks as if the NCAA agreed.

South Carolina avoided some of the NCAA’s major punishments like a postseason ban, scholarship reductions or vacating wins.

“It is a win. We’ve been lumped into an ugly situation for a long time. All you have to do is listen to court documents and things that came out in all those trials. In all those trials you never heard South Carolina in those conversations,” Martin said. “Unfortunately we had a guy here under my watch that got into some stuff late in his tenure here. He did it for himself. He didn’t do it for recruits, he didn’t’ do it for our players, he didn’t do it to steer players to agents. It was a do my own thing kind of deal for personal need.”

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Almost all of the Gamecocks’ penalties were self-imposed and accepted by the NCAA. They’ll pay a $5,000 fine, have a reduction of official visits to 25 over the course of two years as well.

They’ll also have limitations on phone and in-person recruiting time over the course of the next two years as well.

The biggest punishment came with a 10-year show-cause order for Lamont Evans, essentially barring him from NCAA basketball for the next decade.

“The only reason we had to take penalties—which I totally agree with—is because he was employed here as an assistant coach. There are bylaws saying he can’t do what he did. The reason they the university alone, the reason they left the players alone, the reason the left the scholarships alone is because it had nothing to do with the players and it was just him on his own.”

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The ruling this week ends the NCAA’s case against South Carolina and means the Gamecocks won’t have to face anymore scrutiny in terms of the FBI investigation.

It ends an over three-year investigation the Gamecocks had to go through to come out almost unscathed.

“At the end of the day we’ve been lumped into a conversation because someone on my staff did something wrong. We’ve been lumped into an ugly chapter of college basketball. Over time, after investigations, what we did had nothing to do with cheating,” Martin said.

“I know we had nothing to do with cheating. I know players here didn’t receive any benefits and I know we don’t cheat in recruiting. I oversee those things. That’s why I say it publicly. If anyone has questions, my word is on it. Today, that chapter, that book? There’s a period. That period ends the book. It’s time to move away from it. There’s not another paragraph, there’s not another chapter.