The University of South Carolina made it official Friday afternoon with the board of trustees approving a two year contract for men’s basketball coach Frank Martin. The action completed a turnabout in the Martin situation from where things stood a few days after the season. According to sources, and also reported by others in the media, University President Bob Caslen wanted to make a change, but over time, pressure from some current and former state politicians who supported Martin and opposed paying the $6.5 million buyout grew on the board. Eventually, Caslen was pressured to back down, according to sources. USC Athletics Director Ray Tanner told the media Friday afternoon he was never directed by Caslen to fire Martin, but rather to review the program, and the revised contract is what he recommended. Martin gets a two year extension to his contract that now runs through March 31, 2025. His total compensation of $3,300,000, which is where his salary will be after the 2022-23 season, will not change for the two additional seasons. If Martin is fired without cause after next season, his buyout would be $3 million. For the next season, his buyout would be prorated to the point the university would owe him no buyout if fired after that season. And for the final two seasons of the revised contract, there would be no buyout. If Martin terminates the contract himself, he does not face a buyout owed to the university.
Also Friday, the board approved contract extensions through 2025 for men’s golf coach Bill McDonald and softball coach Beverly Smith. Tanner also announced the hiring of Jeff Poppell as the new men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach. He spent the last three seasons as the head women’s coach at Florida.
The basketball team is experiencing turnover on its roster. Those who have announced plans to leave are guards Trae Hannibal, who has committed to Murray State, TJ Moss and Jermaine Couisnard, and forwards Keyshawn Bryant, Justin Minaya and Jalyn McCreary. The Gamecocks have added transfers in 6-2 Chico Carter Jr. of Murray State and 6-7 AJ Wilson of George Mason.
Women’s coach Dawn Staley, who is also the coach of the USA National Team, also will lead the staff for the 2021 USA AmeriCup Team. Team trials will be April 18-21 at USC.
The baseball team looks for another SEC series victory this weekend at home against Missouri. The Gamecocks took the series from Georgia last weekend and have won their last two series after dropping their first league series at Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks lost their midweek game against North Carolina in Charlotte 3-2 in 10 innings and are 19-8 overall, 6-3 in the SEC.
The football team will hold its first major scrimmage of spring practice Saturday morning. That will be the fourth practice of the week for the team after not going on the field last week. The Gamecocks are working their way towards their spring game April 24.
Ryan Hall was named the SEC Men’s Golfer of the Week after winning the Augusta Haskins Award Invitational last weekend, his second victory of the season. Hall received an exemption into the field for the PGA Tour event in late July in Minnesota. The Gamecocks finished tied for tenth in the tournament.
Pauline Roussin-Bouchard finished tied for third last weekend in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. She had seven birdies in her final round of two under 70 and finished two over for the three round event. The Gamecocks Ana Peleaz finished 12th. The top ranked women next will play in the SEC Championships beginning April 14th in Birmingham.
The women’s soccer team will host Clemson Saturday night. The Gamecocks are ranked as high as ninth with a 10-3 record. The Tigers are ranked 11th and are 11-4.
The men’s team defeated UAB 6-0 last time out last Saturday, and Christian Kraus was named the Conference-USA Player of the Week after scoring a pair of goals. The Gamecocks are 7-6-1 overall and 1-3-1 in the conference. They will play at Florida International Saturday.
The softball team will play at Ole Miss this weekend. The Gamecocks took two games from Charleston Southern during week to break a seven game losing streak which included being swept at Missouri last weekend. USC is 19-13 overall and 0-9 in the SEC.
The men’s tennis team played its final regular season match Friday afternoon against Florida, and the women will go for their seventh straight win on Tuesday against Florida in Columbia.