Martin, Currie, Schulz address Martin’s departure

27 Mar

On Tuesday morning, athletic director John Currie and university president Kirk Schulz entered the Legends Room of Bramlage Coliseum. The voice of Frank Martin rang through the room. Even as the Kansas State administrators moved toward the podium to address the future of the basketball program, reporters watched on their computers a live press conference in South Carolina, where the Gamecocks announced Martin as their new head coach.

Though Schulz gave his vote of confidence to Currie, many still point to the athletic director as the reason Martin left Kansas State.

Rumors of a strained relationship due to the supposedly conflicting personalities of Currie and Martin showed up in news reports and social media. Both Currie, Martin and Schulz deny that the athletic director and coach had anything but a solid working relationship, and Schulz spoke out against speculation to the contrary.

“I don’t think that’s a fair characterization,” Schulz said. “It’s been unfortunate that that’s the way it’s been portrayed in the last three or four days.”

One reporter flat-out asked Currie, “Are you a micro-manager?”

Currie paused, then sort of laughed.

“I don’t think people usually stand up and go, ‘I’m a micro-manager!'”

He declined to put himself in that category, citing the fact that he only attended four or five basketball practices this season, as compared to another athletic director he knows, who makes a habit of spending two hours every day in the football offices.

Some occurrences seemed to contradict that assertion, though, such as the letter Martin wrote to Kansas State student season-ticket holders in which he asked them to refrain from using profanity in chants and the decision Currie made to sit senior Jamar Samuels against Syracuse in the third round of the NCAA tournament after he was found in violation of NCAA rules.

While it seemed a bit odd to the general population that Martin – well known for being captured on camera in the midst of profane tirades directed at his players – would suddenly send out a plea for better language from fans, the letter definitely sounded like it was penned by the coach. Currie said he and Martin had conversations about the swearing in light of the emphasis placed on sportsmanship by the men’s basketball committee.

“I was sitting in a meeting, in an NCAA committee meeting out of town, and I got an email from him,” Currie said. “He said, ‘Hey, I want to send this letter out, what do you think? Make any changes you want to make, what do you think?’ I thought it was a great statement, very positively received nationally.”

The suspension of Samuels for the final game of his career appeared to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. In the postgame press conference, Martin said in his opinion Samuels did nothing wrong. He also said he had no part in the decision. That apparent dissent from Currie’s decision made a rift between the two seem all the more likely.

Martin teleconferenced with reporters shortly after being introduced as the new coach at South Carolina. Though on CBS he spoke openly about how he sent money to his former players when they needed help and why he essentially thought it should not be against the NCAA rules for players to accept money from longtime family friends, as AAU coach Curtis Malone was to Samuels, Martin maintained that the handling of the situation with Samuels did not cause him to leave.

“I don’t make decisions based on one experience,” Martin said. “The thing with Jamar – Jamar might have played and we might have won and I still might have made this decision. The decisions I make and everything I do does not have a single thing to do with the decision that anybody else makes.”

Moreover, the coach praised Currie for always giving him and his staff everything they needed to do their jobs.

“It’s unfortunate that I make a difficult decision and everyone’s got to figure out a way to blame someone for the decision. That’s not fair to anybody,” Martin said. “I made the decision I made, and nobody should be blamed.”

“In life you go through things and sometimes for no reason whatsoever, a new opportunity, a new challenge gets put in front of you, you make a choice. That doesn’t mean one choice is better than the other, one place is better than the other.

“This decision is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life … But I know this: K-State is in a much better place now than it was six years ago.”

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