1-on-1 with Frank Martin: ‘I know we don’t cheat’
Former South Carolina assistant basketball coach Lamont Evans is set to go on trial on federal bribery and conspiracy charges in April, but the Gamecocks have nothing to fear from potential revelations in that case, USC head coach Frank Martin told The State.
“I’ve got no concerns. I’ve said that to (athletics director) Ray Tanner. I’ve said that to everybody,” Martin said. “If there is something there, then I’m going to be held accountable for that, but I know the way I manage my office, and I know what I do and I don’t do. I don’t dance that dance.”
Martin’s comments came during an exclusive interview on Wednesday set up to discuss pay-for-play schemes in college basketball that have come to light after a wide-ranging federal investigation into basketball recruiting. In October, three men, including former Clemson player Merl Code, were found guilty on felony wire fraud charges involving attempts to steer highly rated recruits to Kansas, Louisville and N.C. State.
Evans was arrested in September of 2017 as federal prosecutors alleged he accepted more than $22,000 while at Oklahoma State and South Carolina in exchange for steering players toward shoe company and financial advisers.
“I know Lamont. I have known him since he was a kid,” Martin said. “Why he ended up in that dance, I have no idea, but I feel pretty comfortable that he wasn’t doing that dance when he was here.”
Evans is not South Carolina’s only link to the case. In February, Yahoo reported that documents tied to the federal government’s case showed that former Gamecocks guard P.J. Dozier received $6,115 while at school. Martin said he would be “very surprised” if that happened.
“I believe in P.J. I believe in his mom. I believe in his family,” Martin said. “We have a very good relationship. I was right in the middle of his recruitment. He wasn’t one of those recruits that I engaged at the 11th hour to convince him to come. I was right in the middle of that thing from the first day I got here.
“Were there some schools willing to do some things to get him to go to their place? Yeah, but I can tell you we didn’t, and I can tell you to this day, I have a very good relationship with that family.
“Now, after he declared to become a pro and there are agents actively involved to retain his services, that’s fair game. That’s out of my control. As far as while he was a player here and his recruitment process here, I don’t see that one.”