USC Men's Basketball

Frank Martin’s not leaving for Cincinnati job. He explains why he’s committed to USC

Frank Martin is not interested in UNLV job

During his post-season press conference, Head University of South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin talked about how he heard from his wife, that he was looking at a career change.
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During his post-season press conference, Head University of South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin talked about how he heard from his wife, that he was looking at a career change.

From 2004-06, Frank Martin experienced — and enjoyed — what it was like to be on the Cincinnati basketball staff. So when the Bearcats’ head coaching position opened earlier this week, he thought hard about the possibilities.

And then he woke up Friday and decided he wasn’t leaving South Carolina.

The Gamecocks’ leader of seven seasons will be back for at least an eighth. The news was first reported Friday afternoon by Stadium’s Jeff Goodman.

“I’ve been to Cincinnati,” Martin, a former Bearcat assistant, told The State on Friday. “It’s not that I watch it on TV and ‘Oh, look at them.’ There’s a passion for basketball there that’s incredible. And I lived it. (Former UC coach) Bob Huggins is like a big brother to me. And he’s one of the guys that, as a young high school coach, I idolized.

“And for 48 hours there that all that could be a possibility was intriguing enough for me to open my ears and actually try to pay attention. I slept on it last night and woke up today and just didn’t think it was the right thing to do.”

Goodman reported Thursday night that Martin had emerged as a “key target” in Cincinnati’s search to replaced the recently departed Mick Cronin.

Martin told The State he had conversations with USC athletics director Ray Tanner on Wednesday. The two texted with each other Thursday evening. (Martin never interviewed with Cincinnati.)

Martin’s boss is one of the main reasons why he remains committed to Carolina.

“I’ve said this over and over,” Martin said, “I trust Ray Tanner. I really, really like our kids. We’ve worked really hard to put together a roster that’s really talented with high-character kids. And we’ve got that. Does that guarantee winning? No.

“My family likes it here, we’ve invested ourselves in the community as people, not just as a basketball coach and his family.”

Martin is 129-106 in seven seasons with the Gamecocks, including the 2017 trip to the Final Four. Since that historic Big Dance run, the Gamecocks are 33-32.

They overcame injuries and a poor non-conference showing to finish fourth in the SEC last season. Martin, the third winningest coach in USC history, returns a sold nucleus next year, headlined by rising sophomores A.J. Lawson and Keyshawn Bryant.

“Just think about the guys you saw play last year,” Martin said. “I don’t care how hard it got, those kids were incredible the way they kept coming back every single day. And by the end of the year, we became a good team. Not because I’m smarter than anybody. But because those kids were committed to each other and the team. That’s important.”

Martin, who made $2.95 million last season, is signed to Carolina through 2022-23. He’d owe USC $1 million if he left for another job this offseason.

“I make a lot of money, man,” Martin said. “I live life like I never thought I would. And I have a responsibility to my kids, to my wife. But at the end of the day, I don’t make decisions based on money. I make decisions as to what in my heart feels right — and that’s the impact I can make on people and people make on me.

“So those players are a big part of it.”

Andrew Ramspacher has been covering college athletics since 2010, serving as The State’s USC men’s basketball beat writer since October 2017. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors, Virginia Press Association and West Virginia Press Association. At a program-listed 5-foot-10, he’s always been destined to write about the game. Not play it.