Marshall Turns Down 'Bama, Stays with Shockers
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall has grown accustomed to hearing lucrative offers from big-name schools trying to lure him away. It's become as much a part of March as the NCAA Tournament.
So has Marshall turning them down.
The latest to be spurned was Alabama, which flew into town this week hoping to land him as the replacement for Anthony Grant. Instead, Marshall agreed to terms on a new contract that could keep him with the Shockers for at least the next seven years.
"We are blessed by all the people who stepped up to make this possible," Marshall said in a statement Thursday. "This is a wonderful city, university and program with great support from so many friends, as well as our administration. Now we can return to our goal of being a shining example for a college basketball program."
Marshall has led the Shockers to four straight NCAA tournaments, including a trip to the Final Four in 2013. Wichita State lost to Notre Dame in the Sweet 16 this past season.
Terms of the new agreement, reached late Wednesday, were not disclosed because the final contract still must be signed. It is expected to be a significant raise from the base salary of $1.85 million that Marshall was making on his previous seven-year rollover contract.
"The old adage, 'You reap what you sow,' undoubtedly applies here," Wichita State athletic director Eric Sexton said. "Over the past eight years, Gregg Marshall and his family have devoted themselves to this community, both personally and professionally. In the past few days, we have seen this community rally to return the favor."
The 52-year-old coach has received interest from big-name programs before, including North Carolina State and Missouri. But he has almost always turned them down - Wichita State was able to successfully pry him from Winthrop after nine seasons.
"I've said how content and happy I am at Wichita State over and over and over," Marshall said last week, when the Alabama interest began to circulate. "At the same time, I don't bury my head in the sand if a tremendous offer comes along. We look at it as a family."
The Crimson Tide fired Grant two weeks ago, and athletic director Bill Battle immediately focused on Marshall as his replacement. Battle flew to Wichita this week and spent an afternoon making his best pitch - believed to be more than $4 million per year.
Marshall was considering a trip to the Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa later this week, but he instead chose to remain with the Shockers after agreeing to a reworked contract.
"I fully respect his decision and wish him and his family all the best," Battle said in a statement late Wednesday. "My objective in this search is focused on one goal: to get the best person available to lead the Alabama men's basketball program."
One of the big drawbacks in Tuscaloosa may have been the clout of the Alabama football team, which tends to dwarf the basketball program. Marshall's team is the spotlight program at Wichita State, where there has not been a football program since the 1980s.
There are other benefits to remaining with the Shockers, too.
For one thing, the program is established. Point guard Fred VanVleet and shooting guard Ron Baker, two of the nation's best players, are expected to return for their senior seasons. And after a period of sustained success, Marshall has reeled in his best recruiting class, headlined by four-star forward Markis McDuffie.
Then there's the support. Wichita State has several well-heeled boosters who ensure the program has everything it needs, including chartered jets for recruiting trips and game travel. Koch Arena has become one of the best homecourt advantages in college hoops, and Shockers fans have snapped up every ticket available for years.
Throw in the fact that Wichita State knocked Kansas from the NCAA Tournament and it's hardly surprising that school administrators would do everything possible to keep Marshall in town.
"We're thrilled that the Marshall family will remain in Wichita," school president John Bardo said. "What he has done with our program as the window to the university is fantastic and we look forward to working with him for some time to come."
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