By Pete Iacobelli
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina coach Frank Martin was suspended one game for harsh language aimed at his players during a loss to Florida and won’t be with the team when it plays at Mississippi State on Saturday.
Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner announced the suspension Thursday.
“The one-game suspension is a result of inappropriate verbal communication as it relates to the well-being of our student-athletes,” Tanner said in a statement.
Late in Tuesday night’s 72-46 loss to No. 1 Florida, Martin was caught on camera shouting and cursing at freshman point guard Duane Notice. A clip of the incident went viral. Earlier in the second half, Martin was seen cursing at forward Michael Carrera.
Martin did not immediately return messages by the Associated Press.
Associate head coach Matt Figgar will take over against the Rebels.
The 47-year-old Martin came to South Carolina two years ago with a drill sergeant’s reputation for getting things accomplished. His death stare when players or officials cross him is harsh and penetrating. Oversized cutouts of a glaring Martin have made regular appearances in the stands among Gamecocks fans these past two seasons.
Martin had made four NCAA appearances in five seasons at Kansas State in his first college head coaching job and has struggled at times with the mistakes that come from turning a program around.
He said after a loss to Kentucky during his first season that his players got out of the Wildcats’ way and let them practice their dunking. After a 64-46 loss to LSU in 2013, he said was never more embarrassed to call himself a basketball coach.
In January, he apologized to leading scorer Brenton Williams for a tirade in a loss to Ole Miss. Martin said at the time there was no place for coaches to speak to players the way he did to Williams.
Martin also apologized to fans behind the team bench who heard and complained about the strong words.
“I was wrong for that and there’s no excuse for it,” he said.
Away from the games, Martin is engaging and friendly, eager to talk and joke with fans and media. He frequently relates the game to his family and is quick to defend his players. But that side gets lost in Martin’s blowups during timeouts.
He signed a six-year contract with South Carolina to leave Kansas State after the 2011-12 season and has made steady progress with the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks beat a ranked opponent for the first time in three seasons with last Saturday night’s 72-67 win over then-No. 17 Kentucky. South Carolina (4-13 SEC) is seeking its fifth Southeastern Conference win when it closes the regular season against the Rebels this weekend. The Gamecocks were 4-14 in SEC play in Martin’s first season.
But Martin’s patience has surely been tested with a roster that includes seven freshmen. He lost two experienced point guards during the season. Two-sport standout Bruce Ellington left school to train for the NFL draft, and Villanova transfer Tyrone Johnson fractured his foot after an official stepped on it.