COLUMBIA — South Carolina men's basketball coach Frank Martin said Thursday that a report linking him to the open job at Connecticut was inaccurate.
“Of course not,” Martin replied via text message when asked by The Post and Courier if the story was true. Martin is recruiting before heading to Atlanta Saturday and Sunday for a guest studio analyst spot during the NCAA Tournament.
The Huskies are searching for a replacement for Kevin Ollie, who was fired on March 10 after six seasons. The report says that Martin is one of four candidates believed to have been targeted by UConn athletics director David Benedict.
The report also says that Martin is said to be “somewhat dismayed” that USC hasn’t invested more in the program after a stunning run to the Final Four last year. Yet Martin has received contract extensions in each of the past two seasons, and the areas of Colonial Life Arena that recruits visit, plus the men’s basketball offices, have been tremendously improved since last season.
Martin just finished his sixth year with the Gamecocks at 17-16, a step back from last season but one not wholly unexpected after USC lost 70 percent of its production from that team. Injuries and inconsistency at the point guard spot kept the Gamecocks from winning more games, but they were still competitive, losing eight games by seven points or less.
Martin still became the first coach since Frank McGuire retired (1980) to post four straight winning seasons, and with 16 more wins, he will pass Eddie Fogler and Dave Odom for third place on the Gamecocks’ chart of career-winningest coaches.
Martin’s latest contract extended him through the 2021-22 season and paid him $2.5 million this season, with a raise to $2.55 million next year. His buyout is $3.5 million.
According to the report, the Huskies are also interested in former Indiana coach Tom Crean, former Ohio State coach Thad Matta and current Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley. Matta this week turned down an offer from Georgia to replace Mark Fox and Crean was hired by Georgia late Thursday.
Hurley guided the Rams to a first-round NCAA tournament win over Oklahoma Thursday and plays Duke on Saturday.