A report published by the New Haven Register on Thursday linked South Carolina head coach Frank Martin to the open UConn job, marking the second time in the past two seasons other schools have been sniffing around Columbia.
Connecticut fired Kevin Ollie on Saturday after the Huskies posted back-to-back losing seasons. Under Ollie’s watch, the Huskies went 127-79 and won the national championship in 2014, but the program has been on an undeniable slide — and the folks in Storrs have high expectations.
Enter the rumor mill and an early short list of targets that includes Martin. According to the Post and Courier, Martin denied interest in the job, texting “Of course not” in response to a question about the report. But Martin is also away on a recruiting trip right now, making it even more unlikely that he’d tip his hand if he were thinking otherwise.
The Register report also mentioned that Martin was disappointed that South Carolina “has not made more of an investment” in basketball after last season’s magical Final Four run, and would prefer a basketball-first environment. Martin complained about lack of fan interest and attendance in Columbia earlier this season, but later dialed back those remarks.
The Register named Rhode Island’s Dan Hurley, former Ohio State coach Thad Matta, and former Indiana coach Tom Crean as UConn’s top targets along with Martin. Crean was hired by Georgia to replace Mark Fox on Thursday, taking him off the board, and Matta has been battling health concerns. (He was also under consideration for the UGA post, but withdrew.) Hurley, then, is the Huskies’ leading candidate, according to another Register piece. With the Rams’ impressive upset of Oklahoma in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, here’s hoping the momentum keeps moving in that direction.
St. Bonaventure’s Mark Schmidt and Vermont’s John Becker were also named as possible choices, but the Huskies would allegedly prefer to hire a veteran coach over a rising star.
Last season, Martin was rumored as a candidate to replace Mark Gottfried at N.C. State and Kim Anderson at Missouri. Martin signed an extension with the Gamecocks last year that runs until 2022-23.