Kansas State coach Frank Martin, who spent seven years at the helm of three high school teams in the 1990s before joining Northeastern University as an assistant coach, says he regularly paid collegiate players who had played for him in high school when they had nowhere else to turn.
Martin, speaking during Sunday's broadcast of the NCAA tournament on CBS, for which he was working as an analyst, seemed to be making a case for better compensating collegiate players in need as he defended Kansas State senior Jamar Samuels, who was held out of the Wildcats' final game because of an eligibility concern.
"I coached 16 years in the same inner city in Miami that I grew up in. 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 said, according to a transcript of the broadcast published by the Kansas City Star. "I knew they didn't have a father figure."
Martin, who the Star reported Monday will become South Carolina's next coach, citing an unamed source close to the coach, has sided with Samuels, saying he wasn't in the wrong.
Curtis Malone, the founder of the DC Assault AAU organization, has said he sent money to Samuels before this year's NCAA tournament but said it wasn't an impermissible benefit because he already had developed a relationship with Samuels and his mother.
A source told the Topeka Capital-Journal that Samuels received $200 from Malone.
"Jamar walked into an unfortunate situation, because like I've told everybody, he didn't ask an agent for money," Martin said during Sunday's broadcast. "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?"
The Wildcats were unable to make up for Samuels' absence in their round of 32 loss to Syracuse, falling 75-59. Even with Samuels, who averaged 10.0 points and 6.6 rebounds this season, the Orange likely still had too much for Martin's squad.
"I'm not going to tell you who they were," Martin said of the former high school players, "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," Martin added. "They can't find ways to make money. When there is no money at home, who is going to help these guys?"
Martin also addressed media rumblings from over the weekend that he was a candidate to take the head coaching job at South Carolina.
On Monday, Martin's agent, Richard Katz, told the Kansas City Star "we have had conversations" with South Carolina but stopped short of confirming a deal was in the works. The State of Columbia, S.C., has also reported Martin's pending hire.
The Gamecocks fired coach Darrin Horn earlier this month after his team finished 10-21.
"In the age of social media that we live in right now, it's crazy," Martin said Sunday. "I was scheduled to be at a press conference today in South Carolina and I was sitting watching a show in New York City last night. And obviously I'm sitting here with you guys today, so it's. ... The stuff that gets out these days, I look at it as a compliment that we're doing our job the right way at Kansas State that these sort of things get out."