South Carolina coach Frank Martin was suspended for Saturday’s regular-season finale at Mississippi State by USC athletic director Ray Tanner on Thursday, following a verbal altercation with a player during Tuesday’s 72-46 loss to Florida. It’s the second time this season that Martin’s sideline behavior has been called into question.
“The one-game suspension is a result of inappropriate verbal communication as it relates to the well-being of our student-athletes,” Tanner said in a statement.
With around 10 minutes to play in Tuesday’s game, cameras caught Martin screaming at freshman point guard Duane Notice. Martin directed a profane outburst at Notice during a timeout.
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USC, which had battled the Gators nose-to-nose for the first half, began running out of steam just before the timeout. Led by Michael Frazier, who sank two 3-pointers before the break as part of his record-setting 11, Florida padded a 39-35 lead with 18 straight points. Notice finished with 11 points, the second-leading scorer for the Gamecocks.
Martin brought a reputation for animated behavior and harsh language on the sideline with him from Kansas State, but it’s the second time this season that the antics have raised an eyebrow. A video clip of the moment quickly went viral and some USC fans complained to the athletic department.
Martin apologized at a press conference on Jan. 21 for another outburst he had on Jan. 18. During that game, a 75-74 loss to Ole Miss, Martin yelled at senior guard Brenton Williams.
“I got after (Brenton Williams) pretty darned good on the sideline in the first half, and I visited with him about it and apologized to him,” Martin said on Jan. 21. “And I do want to apologize to any fans that were behind the bench that maybe heard what was said. I was wrong for that, and there’s no excuse for it.”
Martin also said that there was no place for himself or any other coach to speak to an athlete the way he did to Williams. He met with Williams and personally apologized as well. Williams took over the team’s scoring lead soon after and has scored in double figures in 11 of the 13 games since.
Many of Martin’s players have spoken of their coach’s fiery demeanor and lauded him for it. Freshman Sindarius Thornwell, a national Top 50 recruit, said that he signed with the Gamecocks because he desired his coach to challenge him like Martin does.
Associate head coach Matt Figger will serve as acting head coach at MSU. The Gamecocks need to win to avoid finishing last in the SEC. Martin will not travel with the team to the game.