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New UMass men's basketball coach Frank Martin pledges "relentless" focus on NCAA tourney return

Frank Martin is the new men's basketball coach at UMass
Frank Martin is the new men's basketball coach at UMass

Frank Martin has been introduced as the new UMass men’s basketball coach.

Martin’s hiring was announced Friday, days after he parted ways with South Carolina after 10 years. On Tuesday, he was introduced at a press conference in Amherst.

Martin led Kansas State to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight in 2010 and the Gamecocks to the Final Four in 2017, but hadn’t brought South Carolina to the postseason in five seasons since.

The 56-year-old, who is married to UMass track and field alumna Anya Martin, replaces Matt McCall, who was fired after five seasons.

Martin sounded confident about the future for the Minutemen.

“There's a reason why the greatest season in K State history happened while I was there. The winningest five-year period in its history were my five years as a head coach there, and we go to South Carolina. And the two winning seasons in the history of the school happened during my time there. The last seven years, if you remove the COVID year, which was a complicated year for everybody in life, let alone basketball and sports, it's the winningest seven-year period the school’s had since the early 70s. It's an excitement to be who we are, because we're going to be everyday guys. We're going to answer the bell. We're not going to dwell on yesterday. And we're not going to worry about tomorrow, we're going to celebrate the fact that we get to compete today.”

Despite a storied history not far from the birthplace of the sport, UMass has only gone to the NCAA Tournament once since 1998, under Derek Kellogg in 2014.

“We're going to be relentless in chasing the ultimate goal of winning another Atlantic 10 championship and get this program back in that NCAA Tournament. That's what it's all about. And that's what our journey will be all about,” Martin said.

A native of Miami, Martin began coaching high school there. He eventually became an assistant coach at Northeastern in 2000, and worked under Bob Huggins at Cincinnati and Kansas State. Then came the heights of the sport with South Carolina.

UMass hasn’t had a 20-win season in almost a decade. But Martin says while he works to turn that around, his focus will also be on the classroom.

“I was a schoolteacher for 16 years before I decided to step foot on a college campus as a basketball coach. I was a math teacher. I'm a teacher at my core. Academics is where it starts for me. Our players will be in class, our players will go to class, our players will excel academically,” he said.

Martin’s contract will reportedly pay him $8.5 million over five years, making him one of the highest-paid state employees.

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.
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