He will be tasked with turning around a program that has reached the NCAA Tournament just once since 1998, following an era when the state’s flagship school shined in the national spotlight under coach John Calipari and star Marcus Camby.
Martin laid out the vision for returning the program to those heights by building a culture based on education, family, and toughness.
“We’re going to be the hardest game everyone has on their schedule,” he said, “because of our disposition, our discipline, and our unity every time we take the floor.”
Martin said he wants to recruit players who fit into his system, regardless of how they’re rated.
“I want people who want to get better,” he said. “When I recruit, I’m really patient. You can have five stars next to your name, but if you think you have it figured out, I’m not for you. I want people who want to be part of what I believe in, and it’s my part to find those guys.”
UMass is Martin’s third head coaching job. He started at Kansas State in 2007, leading the Wildcats to four NCAA Tournament berths in five years, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2010.
Martin then left for South Carolina, where he posted a 171-147 record over 10 seasons. He made the NCAA Tournament just once with the Gamecocks, in 2017, but that was a run to the Final Four.
UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford believes Martin’s hiring will take Minuteman basketball to the next level.
“We want to be excellent across this university, and we’ve created a dynamic now with the hiring of Frank Martin that allows us to realize excellence,” said Bamford.
Martin called his arrival at UMass a full-circle moment.
After coaching in the Miami high school scene during the 1990s, Martin accepted his first college coaching position at Northeastern as an assistant in 2000.
While in Massachusetts, he met his wife, Anya, a former track star at UMass. Martin joked to the audience that Anya would have to be the one to share the story about the conversation they had when Bamford called about the opening.
“I’ll let her expand that someday,” said Martin. “Life is just one big circle. You never know when the circle ends up back where it started.”
The Minutemen finished 15-17 this season under Matt McCall, with whom UMass parted ways at the end of the season.
UMass went 61-82 in five years with McCall. Outside of the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season when they went 8-7, the Minutemen have endured a losing season every year since 2014-15.
Martin said he was intrigued by the UMass job because of Bamford’s passion for the program, as well as his recent track record in the hirings of Greg Carvel (men’s hockey), Tory Verdi (women’s basketball), and Don Brown (football).
Martin’s goal is to bring enthusiasm back to the Mullins Center and raise banners just the way Calipari, his good friend and mentor, once did.
Martin ended the press conference with a message he heard from Rich Bisaccia, the Las Vegas Raiders’ interim coach last season. It’s a motto Martin wants his program to adapt.
“Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You cannot withstand the storm,’ ” Martin repeated. “The warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm.’ ”