The people spoke to The Associated Press Monday on condition of anonymity because the school had not announced the hiring. The university’s board of trustees is scheduled to meet Tuesday morning to discuss a contract matter.
Martin will replace Darrin Horn, who was fired two weeks ago after going 60-63 over four seasons. The Gamecocks finished last in the Southeastern Conference last year.
Martin is leaving Kansas State, which he led to the NCAA tournament four of the last five seasons. The Wildcats reached the regional finals in 2010. His overall record as a head coach is 117-54 and he is 6-4 in the NCAA tourney.
The Gamecocks have been to the NCAA tournament just once since 1998. They finished this season 10-21 and 2-14 in the SEC.
Martin is the son of Cuban immigrants who coached high school basketball in Miami for 15 years and was an assistant at Northeastern for four seasons before Bob Huggins brought him on to his staff at Cincinnati. Martin credits Huggins with jump starting his career, saying the current coach at West Virginia helped him get into college coaching.
South Carolina will be a rebuilding job.
The team’s record got progressively worse during Horn’s four years. Their top player, point guard and two-sport high school star Bruce Ellington, originally promised to only play basketball next season, but after Horn was fired, he started hanging around the football field during spring practice.
Several other players could consider transfers as Martin’s intense coaching style is a stark contrast from Horn’s more laid back approach.
Martin has not publically commented about the South Carolina job or why he might want to leave Kansas State at this time. He was an in-studio analyst for CBS during its weekend NCAA tournament coverage and didn’t answer directly when asked about coaching the Gamecocks.
“The stuff that gets out these days, I look at it as a compliment that we’re doing our job the right way at Kansas State that these sorts of things get out,” Martin said.
A potential salary for Martin has not been disclosed. He made around $1.1 million at Kansas State, and South Carolina athletic director Eric Hyman said when he fired Horn that the Gamecocks were willing to pay their next coach a competitive salary. The school also will owe Horn a $2.4 million buyout.
Horn was hired from Western Kentucky after leading the Hilltoppers to the round of 16 in 2008. His first team at South Carolina went 21-10 and 10-6 in the SEC, winning the Eastern Division. But it wasn’t enough to get the team’s first NCAA tournament bid since 2004, and his teams won fewer games each season.
The Gamecocks have lost 24 of their last 27 SEC games. Horn finished his career at South Carolina 23-45 in league games and 60-63 overall with thee losing seasons in a row.
— Associated Press —