Bulls move in on Winthrop's Marshall
Here's what I have running in Thursday's paper ... could be a very interesting next day or two ... more to come ...
By GREG AUMAN
Times Staff Writer
TAMPA -- Gregg Marshall, who has taken Winthrop from basketball obscurity to perennial trips to the NCAA Tournament, has stepped to the forefront of USF's search for its next basketball coach.
Officials at the Rock Hill, S.C., university confirmed Wednesday that USF had requested and been granted permission Tuesday to speak with Marshall, and things have progressed quickly from there.
New Mexico, which had also targeted Marshall, reportedly has opted to go with Iowa's Steve Alford, leaving Marshall to choose between more talks with USF and a lucrative extension to stay in his native South Carolina. According to an ESPN.com report, Marshall met with USF athletic director Doug Woolard on Tuesday night at his home in South Carolina.
Marshall, 44, has taken the Eagles to the NCAA Tournament seven times in nine years, including the program's first tournament win last week against Notre Dame. He has a 194-83 record at Winthrop and met with the school's athletic director and president Wednesday to discuss a potential 10-year contract paying close to $400,000 a year to replace the one he signed two years ago. His current contract would require him to pay a buyout of $100,000 if he left the Eagles to coach elsewhere.
His consistent success with one of college basketball's top mid-major programs puts him at the top of USF's known candidates, along with South Alabama coach John Pelphrey.
USF is seeking a replacement for Robert McCullum, who was fired March 9 after four seasons, most recently a 4-28 record in two years of Big East play. Marshall did not return calls placed to his office and home seeking comment, and Woolard is not commenting on candidates during the search process.
Winthrop's enrollment is about one-sixth of USF's, and the Eagles do not have a football team, so the Bulls may have a budget big enough to outbid Winthrop for Marshall's services. Marshall's current contract pays him about $270,000, comparable to what McCullum was due to make at USF. The challenge will be convincing him to leave his native South Carolina, where he coached eight seasons as an assistant at College of Charleston before taking the Winthrop job.
Last summer, Marshall had accepted the head coaching job at Charleston and was introduced at a press conference, only to change his mind and return to Winthrop the next day, having never signed a contract.
The Bulls' vacancy continues to draw interest from former and current head coaches. The most notable names to join the list Wednesday included former Charlotte and Texas A&M coach Melvin Watkins, now associate head coach at Missouri; Tom Green, who has won 378 games in 24 years as head coach at Fairleigh Dickinson; and former Iowa State coach Wayne Morgan, who was fired last year after a 55-39 record in three seasons. Scott Rigot, an assistant coach at Kentucky for the last five seasons, also has applied.