Martin takes over after 'unique set of circumstances'

Updated: April 9, 2007, 7:08 PM ET
Associated Press

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Frank Martin was introduced as the successor to Bob Huggins on Monday, a move that Kansas State hopes will bring a quick end to an embarrassing situation.

"As we stepped back for roughly 24 hours to look at all the options ... we felt like the best decision for us and the one that made the most sense was to make Frank Martin our head basketball coach," said athletic director Tim Weiser.

An assistant to Huggins, Martin was handed the job after Huggins abruptly quit after last week to take the coaching job at his alma mater, West Virginia.

Assistant coach Dalonte Hill, 27, was promoted to associate head coach. Both hires were believed aimed at keeping intact what some scouting services have labeled as the No. 1 incoming freshman class in the country.

"I will be the first one to admit to you that this was a rather unique set of circumstances for us," Weiser said.

Martin, 41, spent the past season as Huggins' top assistant and recruiting coordinator, helping turn around a program that had been dismal for years. The Wildcats went 23-12, reached the NIT and had their best conference finish since the start of the Big 12 in 1996.

But Martin has never been a Division I head coach and his only other experience leading a program came to an embarrassing end at Miami (Fla.) Senior High, where he was fired and the school was stripped of a state championship because of recruiting violations.

Although he was terminated, Martin was officially cleared of any wrongdoing. He said Monday he would be happy to sit down with any reporter in the room one-on-one and discuss the situation.

"I have nothing to hide," he said.

Weiser said he had not spoken with anybody in Florida about the investigation.

"We felt Frank was very open when he was hired here about what took place. We'd had a chance to find out what the facts were," Weiser said. "But I would tell you, if I felt in any way that that was going to compromise his ability to do the job, we wouldn't have hired him."

He, Martin and Hill also signed the best class the Wildcats ever corralled, headed by 6-foot-4 Bill Walker and 6-9 Michael Beasley, cited by most services as the No. 1 prospect in the nation. Walker became eligible at midterm and looked spectacular in the few games he played before sustaining a season-ending knee injury.

Beasley whetted fans' appetites when he appeared in Bramlage Coliseum in a high school game last month and scored 30 points.

Beasley's mother has said her son still plans to attend Kansas State, but the player himself has not said that publicly. Martin and Hill both acknowledged Monday they were not 100 percent certain that Beasley will not seek to be released from his commitment -- a request Weiser says would not be granted anyway.

Martin and Hill both hurried out of Manhattan last week to speak with Beasley.

"He said, 'Kansas State's been great to me,"' said Hill, who was Beasley's AAU coach and is close with the player and his family. "I'm almost certain that he's coming."

Walker made it clear to Weiser and Kansas State president Jon Wefald that he wanted Martin and Hill to get the jobs.

"I told them that in order for me to stay, they have to hire someone who's been here," Walker said. "I'm pretty sure they heard me and they took that into account when they were talking to Frank."

Martin projects a tough-guy image that seems justified considering his experience as barroom bouncer in Miami.

"We broke up a fight and threw the guys out of the bar. We thought it was over," Martin said.

"Then when the bar closed at 3 a.m., we cleaned up and walked outside. A car came racing over. We were smart enough to know what was getting ready to happen. We dove and shots were fired. Luckily for me and the other two bouncers, everybody was all right."

No arrests were ever made, Martin said.

"They just drove away. It goes with the territory," he said. "Like being the head coach at Kansas State deals with [news conferences], being a bouncer, you've got to deal with that."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press