by Kevin Burton
Gregg Marshall, the coach who took Wichita State to the Final Four in 2013, was forced to resign Tuesday amid allegations he punched a former player, choked a former assistant, and used racial slurs as part of a pattern of verbal abuse against players and athletic department staff.
For this and a number of other effronteries, he was paid $7.75 million on his way out the door.
Marshall had issued a statement denying the allegations. But the reporting on the story by Jeff Goodman of Stadium was thorough and just short of unanimous in corroborating the changes against Marshall.
During a six-month investigation, Stadium contacted 36 former and current members of the Wichita State basketball program (26 players and 10 assistant coaches) who have played for or coached with Marshall at some point during his 13 years with the Shockers.
“He’s a maniac, a bully,” a former assistant told Goodman. “He disrespects people, brings up personal stuff, family, girlfriends.”
Former Shocker center Shaq Morris told Stadium that Marshall punched him twice during a 2015 practice. Marshall also allegedly choked assistant coach Kyle Lindsted during the 2016-17 season. Three eyewitnesses reported this to Stadium.
Marshall routinely physically and verbally abused members of the program and demeaned his players with ethnic and racial slurs, sources told Stadium.
Upon learning of Stadium’s reporting, Wichita State initiated an investigation into Marshall last month, hiring Tueth Keeney out of St. Louis, according to reports.
“In the past two years 10 players have transferred from Wichita State, including seven after last season. That’s nearly double the national average. Each player Stadium contacted said Marshall’s treatment of players and coaches they experienced and witnessed was the primary reason for leaving the program,” Goodman wrote.
“He doesn’t know how to treat people,” a former player told Stadium. “I felt like I wasn’t playing for him, but that I was playing against him. He f—d me up mentally.”
More than one national writer has said Wichita State knew of Marshall’s behavior, but looked the other way because of his on-court success. Marshall was 331-121 (.732) at Wichita State.
Ryan Philips, writing for thebiglead.com, said rumors of Marshall’s behavior have been an open secret in college basketball circles for years.
“Five years ago I heard rumors about Marshall abusing players and staff. I didn’t have anything concrete, but it was enough to be concerning,” Phillips wrote. “Then when I covered the 2017 Maui Invitational, beat writers from several teams were openly discussing his conduct, as if everyone knew and had just accepted that was the way things were done in the program.”
“Wichita State turned a blind eye to these rumors for years. He was winning and bringing in a lot of revenue to the athletic department,” Phillips wrote. “The people in charge at Wichita State need to take a long look at themselves and ask how that was allowed to happen.”
Not one syllable of this information about Marshall, came from the local Wichita Eagle newspaper until after the fact. That bothers me.
I will never know what happened first hand. But given what Phillips and others have written about what common knowledge it was, it’s hard to believe the Eagle knew nothing of Marshall’s behavior.
If they in fact had the information and chose not to print it, that makes me wonder what other big-money interests in and around Wichita that the paper is covering up for.
The settlement caused the basketball world to erupt in anger. Goodman quotes one division one coach as saying, “What a crock of s—. This guy’s treated kids and assistants like that for decades and walks away with $8 mil. Wow, what a messed-up system.”
But the fact is, this is business as usual in major-college athletics. Does anybody doubt Marshall will get another job, if he wants one?
“Gregg Marshall’s gonna be making the Sweet 16 with Liberty in five years and still be getting paid more than $1 million a year by Wichita State,” said Craig Meyer, a sportswriter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.