Before his meteoric rise at Kansas State, Frank Martin was a successful high school basketball coach in Florida.
As a prep writer with the Key West Citizen in the 1990s, I always looked forward to when Martin’s star-studded Miami High teams made the three-hour bus rides to play Key West each December. Miami High’s roster included two future NBA players — Udonis Haslem and Steve Blake.
But Martin’s run as Miami High coach ended in scandal in 1999, when he was forced to resign following a Florida High School Activities association investigation that revealed improper recruiting activities. According to the FHSAA investigation, the Miami High starting five, including Blake and Haslem, received special inducement in the form of housing assistance from various school employees and boosters.
The FHSAA investigation was launched after an investigative piece by the Miami New Times. Miami High was forced to forfeit its 1998 state title and 36 wins. The FHSAA, however, never personally accused Martin of recruiting or any wrongdoing.
When I asked Martin about the investigation when he was an assistant at Northeastern in 2003, he claimed he did nothing wrong. He stood by that claim in a more thorough story in the Topeka Capital-Journal in 2007, shortly after he replaced Bob Huggins as K-State coach.
“I didn’t think we did anything wrong,” Martin told The Topeka Capital-Journal. “I will go to my grave in my heart knowing that we did not break the law.”
Here’s a link to the Capital-Journal story: http://tinyurl.com/37bj76z
While Martin stood by the popular “I wasn’t aware of it going on” claim, he’s reinvented himself as a successful college coach. And he’s using his South Florida ties in recruiting. Martin already has one Fort Lauderdale player on his roster, sophomore K-State guard Martavious Irving. He also recently landed a commitment from Miami Dr. Krop’s Angel Rodriguez, one of the top point guard prospects in the 2011 class.
Martin will have a chance to further showcase his program to South Florida kids on Saturday when No. 6 Kansas State faces Florida in the Metro PCS Orange Bowl Classic.