Frank Martin: 'This university is not being investigated.'
South Carolina men’s basketball head coach Frank Martin addressed the arrest of his former assistant Lamont Evans, who has been connected to a recent federal corruption and bribery investigation into college basketball, on Thursday, saying news of the arrest “broke his heart.”
Addressing the media for the first time since news of the scandal broke, Martin said he had known Evans “since he was a high school kid” and gave him his first break in the coaching business.
“I can’t tell you those 48 hours after the news broke were good for me,” Martin said.
Martin also reiterated that he does not believe he or South Carolina is under investigation.
“Everything you know about the investigation, I know. This university is not being investigated. Lamont is being investigated. Frank Martin is not being investigated. Lamont is being investigated. Our basketball team is not being investigated. Lamont is being investigated,” Martin said.
Martin did say he believed the university had been contacted by the FBI in regards to the investigation, but repeated that he did not think anyone besides Lamont connected to the program was being investigated.
Evans surrendered to federal agents and was arrested Sept. 27 after the FBI filed charges the previous day accusing him of accepting $22,000 in bribes to steer players to certain agents and financial advisers.
At the time of his arrest, Evans worked as an assistant coach for Oklahoma State, which has since fired him. Evans was hired in 2016 at Oklahoma State by Brad Underwood, who previously served as an assistant for Martin. Before that, both Evans and Underwood worked under Martin at South Carolina and Kansas State.
The University of South Carolina, Martin and other members of the program were never explicitly mentioned in any court documents filed by the FBI, but filings do describe a “University-2” where Evans worked from 2012 to 2016 as “a public research university located in South Carolina. With over approximately 30,000 students, it is one of South Carolina’s largest universities.” The records also mentioned a “Player-3” at South Carolina who was considered a first-round draft pick in 2017 and whom Evans promised to steer towards a financial adviser.
On Thursday, Martin said he did not know who “Player-3” is.
“We haven’t been told,” who the player is, Martin said. “As they’re going through their investigation, I’m sure they’re doing their due diligence, and because we’re not part of it, we’re not privy to that information. I’m sure we’ll find that out sometime in the near future.”
In a statement issued soon after Evans’s arrest, South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner said the university has not received any information to lead it to believe any other former or current staff members are under investigation. At the same time, Tanner promised to hire a third-party investigator to lead an inquiry into the allegations.
Speaking Thursday, Martin said he was “not shocked” to learn about the recruiting scandal, but was surprised by Evans’s inclusion in it.
“Any coach in this business that tries to act like they didn’t know there were some shenanigans going on the way that it was reported is not being honest with you,” Martin said, “Our business is not messed up ... but there was some stuff going on, and no one could put their finger on it, but we knew there were some issues.”
Martin also defended his fellow coaches, saying most people in the profession are “men of integrity.” He added that Evans made a bad decision but isn’t a bad human being.
When asked if he had spoken to Evans or anyone in his family since his arrest, Martin said he not been in contact with them but he hoped to one day speak to him “when this passes ... to figure out what happened.”