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| Sports |

Frank Martin Hired at South Carolina, Admits Paying Ex-High School Players in Miami

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Finally, Frank Martin has become the head basketball coach of... South Carolina? According to news reports, Martin is leaving Kansas State after five years to take over the struggling Gamecocks. The move brings Martin closer to his native Miami, where he coached high school ball for 15 years, but it's a surprise since South Carolina's team (a) sucks, and (b) isn't the University of Miami.

Amazingly, that's not even the weirdest Frank Martin-related news. Speaking during a Sunday CBS broadcast of the NCAA tournament, Martin said he often sent money to the high school players he once coached in Miami. "I knew they didn't have a father figure," he said.

Last year, when Hurricanes head coach Frank Haith left to take over at the University of Missouri, everybody thought Martin was in line for a storybook return to his old stomping grounds. Instead, Miami hired 62-year-old Jim Larranaga and we all know how that turned out (an up-and-down but surprisingly not terrible 20-13).

So it's a surprise that only a year later, Martin is moving, and moving to a program as troubled as South Carolina. The Gamecocks finished dead-last in the SEC this year.

But South Carolina will reportedly pay Martin $2.05 million per year, compared to the measly $1.45 million he received in Manhattan, Kansas. Martin also joins a SC coaching staff that already includes Steve Spurrier (football) and Dawn Staley (women's basketball).

Apparently, South Carolina weren't put off by Martin's past. Namely that New Times caught him cheating back in 1998 by illegally recruiting and listing fake addresses for his stars Udonis Haslem and Steve Blake at Miami High.

Or by his latest controversy.

"I coached 16 years in the same inner city in Miami that I grew up in," Martin said on CBS. "Do you know how much money I sent to kids that played for me in high school when they were in college because I knew where they came from?"

Martin was defending one of his K-State players, Jamar Samuels, who was suspended for his team's NCAA match-up against Syracuse. The Wildcats lost.

"Jamar walked into an unfortunate situation, because like I've told everybody, he didn't ask an agent for money," Martin said during the broadcast, according to a transcript from the Kansas City Star. "He didn't ask a booster for money. He didn't take advantage of being a student-athlete, because he asked someone he met (before) he got into an NCAA institution for money.

"He asked a person who has been a father figure in his life since he was about 12 years of age. What is he supposed to do?"

"I'm not going to tell you who they were," Martin added of the high school players he apparently paid, "but I sent them a lot of money over the years to make sure they could take their girlfriend out to the movies, make sure they could wash their clothes and do all the things that scholarship money don't cover. They don't have an option.

"It's not like they can work while they're in college," he said. "They can't find ways to make money. When there is no money at home, who is going to help these guys?"

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes. Follow this journalist on Twitter @MikeMillerMiami.

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