COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - University of South Carolina Board of Trustees approved to amend coach Frank Martins contract. The decision came just before noon on Friday.
Martin will receive a two year extension that will take him thru March 31, 2025.
His total annual compensation for the two additional years equals that of the current term’s final year, $3,300,000.
Martin’s deal comes with new contract buyout terms. If the University terminates Martin’s contract without cause after April 1st, 2023, they will not be obligated to pay a buyout.
If UofSC dismisses Martin without cause from today through March 31st, 2023, the school owes Martin a buyout equal to a pro-rated portion of his compensation up to that date. However, an additional clause stipulates that if Martin’s terminated after April 1st, 2022, the buyout shall not exceed a total of $3,000,000. Regardless of the termination date, the University will not be required to pay Martin a buyout for the additional two years to the existing contract.
And if Martin opts to leave anytime before March 31st, 2025, he will not owe the University any money.
Athletics Director Ray Tanner says he ultimately decided to extend coach Frank Martin’s contract without any undue influence from state politicians or fans on social media. The buyout figure to fire Martin, which sat north of $6,000,000, also did not lead to Tanner’s recommendation.
“It did not,” Tanner said. “It’s fair to say it was a lengthy review. Ultimately, it did not affect it. I had a number of meetings with Martin personally and arrived at a decision.”
Tanner emphasized UofSC President Bob Caslen never directed Tanner to make a change.
Tanner does not view the buyout as protecting the school.
“This is a statement about our program and commitment to basketball from this university,” Tanner said. “Coach Martin is our head coach. You’re talking about a buyout situation that’s a very good buyout. Even still, you can look comparably to some of the other buyouts around the country, and he remains with a very strong buyout.”
During the month-long wait to decide on Martin’s future, six Gamecocks on last season’s roster either declared for the NBA draft or entered the transfer portal or both.
Tanner does not believe the delay in reaching an extension with Martin negatively impacted the program’s future.
“I don’t think it has hurt in any way at all,” Tanner said. “They’ve happened throughout the country. The last count that I saw was 1200 in the portal. It’s just a new way of life in college athletics.”
The lengthy review to ultimately move forward with Martin on the bench has not hurt the relationship between coach and AD, from Tanner’s perspective.
“I think it will be as strong as it ever has been,” Tanner said. “We’ve always been candid with each other. I have been in the seat before, not the basketball seat, but in the coaching seat. I think I understand what you go through. We don’t always agree on everything. I think we respect each other to agree to disagree.”
Martin completed his ninth season at Carolina last March with a loss to Ole Miss at the SEC Tournament. The Gamecocks finished the past season at 6-15 overall—his first losing season since 2014, Martin’s second year running the program.
Tanner fully believes Martin can return the program to its winning ways, when the team was finishing Top-4 in the league, as recently as the 2018-2019 season.
“He’s done it before,” Tanner added. “He’s had success here. When you look at the big picture, you go well; there are not a lot of NCAA Tournament appearances on the resume. There was a Final Four. There have been some really good years, too. If you look at the win-loss total and where he finished in the league, you’d almost say he was in the postseason that year. It didn’t happen.”
The 2020-21 season featured unusual circumstances for every single program throughout the country. Multiple COVID-19 pauses created an additional layer of challenges.
Martin personally battled COVID-19 on two separate occasions. The second bout in January took its toll on him both physically and mentally.
The team played only one game in December at Houston. Several days later, the Cougars paused basketball operations because nearly their entire team contracted the virus.
Unfortunately, the Gamecock men’s basketball program suffered a similar fate and halted team activities for weeks. They did not play again until January 2nd, 2021.
Shortly after the return, Carolina had its second COVID-related pause. They had a 10-day layoff between their game against Texas A&M and LSU on January 16th. Due to COVID-19 protocols, Martin, assistant coach Chuck Martin, and Doug Edwards, who handles student-athlete development, were not in attendance.
Martin’s tenure has featured unprecedented success at Carolina. He guided the program to its best season in history during the 2016-17 campaign. That season the Gamecocks went to their first-ever Final Four and recorded a school record of 26 wins.