The Frank Martin Era arrives for UMass men’s basketball

Martin is the 23rd men’s basketball coach


Chris Tucci / Massachusetts Athletics

By Frederick Hanna III, Assistant Sports Editor

The Massachusetts marching band welcomed Frank Martin with the UMass fight song as he made his way to the podium for his introductory press conference to become the next head coach of the UMass men’s basketball team. Beside him on the podium at the Champions Center was the leader of the coaching search, UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford, who has been at the forefront of finding a replacement to lead the men’s basketball program.

Bamford jokingly opened up his statement with a remark about Martin hitting his first bonus as coach: showing up to his introductory press conference (a reference to when Pat Kelsey backed out of the head coaching position at UMass 35 minutes before his introduction.)

“Frank let me tell you, that doesn’t always happen,” Bamford said as he looked over towards Martin.

Martin was accompanied by his wife Anya Martin, a UMass legend in her own regard after becoming a track and field champion back in the 90s, as he made his way to the podium for opening remarks. The former South Carolina coach inked a five-year deal with UMass, earning $1.65 million per year with a combination of salary, media and other compensations.

The Miami native has a 288-201 record as a men’s basketball coach and has made it to the NCAA Tournament five times, four with Kansas State and once with South Carolina. Martin comes into Amherst with a loaded resume. He took the Gamecocks to the final four for the first time in program history in 2017, was named National Coach of the Year that same year and was the Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year in 2010. Martin is hopeful that his background in coaching can turn the program around back to when it was successful in the mid to late 90s.

“I get goosebumps thinking about what we can create [at the Mullins Center] again,” Martin said. “When we re-energize everybody that’s been a supporter of UMass for so many years and all the new fans.”

Success at the Mullins Center won’t come easy next year with the Atlantic 10 Conference getting stronger by the season. The addition of Loyola Chicago will add a new a mix into the equation along with the top caliber of teams like Davidson, Dayton and Saint Louis. Martin understands that the conference is loaded with talent, but also sees it as another opportunity to hit the ground running for new recruits in different parts of the country.

“We get to go into D.C., we get to go into Philadelphia, we get to go to New York,” Martin said. “We get to go into obviously different parts in this pocket [of the country]. Now we have Loyola, I’ve always recruited Chicago [talent] from my Kansas State days. It’s a powerful thing. It’s a footprint that I am very comfortable with.”

Martin has some familiarity with the current roster as well. He watched Noah Fernandes back in his high school days and remembers taking on T.J. Weeks back when South Carolina faced UMass in the fall of 2019. There has been a lot of change since that matchup in 2019. Preston Santos and Weeks are the only two players who played in that game and are still on the roster.

“The other guys [aside from Fernandes and Weeks] I am trying to get to know,” Martin said. “I really don’t know much about them … I got to understand them. They got to understand me and we got to connect and then go out there and become the best version of us that we can be.”

It’s been officially four days since Martin was hired to be the next coach of the program. Martin says that his coaching staff is still in the works and his decisions will be in the coming days, but his main focus right now is winning over the current players on the roster and getting right to work.

“I am so excited to build our program and to compete with the winning that takes place on this campus,” Martin said.

Frederick Hanna III can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @FrederickHIII.