The Gamecocks’ athletics department and administration should be commended for how they have taken a patient approach to Frank Martin’s tenure.
Martin proved at Kansas State that he is one of the better coaches in the country. He took a program that hadn’t been relevant since the 1980s to the NCAA tournament in his first year. He followed that up with an appearance in the NIT, but then went to three straight NCAA Tournaments, including an Elite Eight run in 2010.
South Carolina’s athletics department had Martin fall into its lap after his relationship with former Kansas State athletic director John Currie went south, and he decided it was time to leave the school. South Carolina realized just how lucky it was to get him, and it appears that the school has promised him ample time to build up a program with only eight NCAA tournament appearances prior to this year.
The first three years were rough for Martin’s program. In conference play, South Carolina finished tied for 12th, 13th and tied for 11th.
The athletics department, administration, boosters and most fans stuck by Martin’s side, even though the program did not seem to be improving. Unlike many other programs, South Carolina didn’t panic and fire its coach prematurely.
It seems like we often hear of coaches either being fired or placed on the hot seat after only three or so years. Kim Anderson was just fired from Missouri’s basketball program after three years, even though he won the Division II National Championship at Central Missouri the year before taking the Mizzou job. At Florida, Will Muschamp was placed on the hot seat after three years and resigned before year four was over. He was the coach-in-waiting at Texas under Mack Brown and considered the next premiere head coach.
South Carolina took a patient, methodical approach with Martin and his development of the basketball program. The Gamecocks wisely allowed a great coach to take time to build his program from the ground up.
It has paid off in a major way. The Gamecocks are currently on a Sweet 16 run after completely dominating the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The athletics department, fans and administration all deserve praise for sticking with Frank Martin. I believe that he is going to continue to reward this school and its fans for years to come.