Wichita State University confirmed Friday that it is investigating allegations that men’s basketball coach Gregg Marshall verbally and physically abused players and others associated with the program.
In a statement, WSU said it has hired a St. Louis law firm, Tueth Keeney, to conduct an independent investigation.
Two sports websites, The Athletic and Stadium, reported Thursday that Marshall struck players, tried to punch a student who had used his parking space near Koch Arena and put his hands around an assistant coach’s neck.
Most of the allegations cited sources. But former WSU player Shaq Morris told the Stadium that Marshall struck him twice during a 2015 practice. The Stadium interviewed more than 30 former or current players who said the verbal abuse included ethnic and racial slurs.
In one incident cited by the Stadium, sources said Marshall taunted forward Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler, who is Native American, “to get back on his horse” and made “Indian howling noises” while in practice during the 2018-19 season. Poor Bear-Chandler remains on the team.
In a statement shared by his agent, Marshall said:
"My coaching style isn’t for everyone. Many players thrive in the system we have created and are energized by our team culture. For those players, I am a motivator, a pusher, someone who can tap into their greatest potential. For others, I can be demanding, harsh or strict. I don’t argue with those descriptions.
"What I am not is demeaning or abusive. I have deep respect for all my players. I believe unequivocally in their value as athletes, as students, and as people. Any portrayal of me to the contrary is wrong."
WSU said it is interviewing university and athletic staffers, coaches, current athletes and Marshall. The school said everyone is cooperating and that the investigation is moving forward in an "expeditious and deliberate manner."
Team activities are continuing as the investigation progresses.
Marshall, 57, has coached at WSU since 2007 and is the winningest coach in school history. His resume includes a trip to the Final Four in 2013, an undefeated regular season the following year, an NIT title and seven trips to the NCAA Tournament.
He is paid $3.5 million annually, making him one of the highest paid coaches in the country.
At the end of last season, which was cut short by the pandemic, seven players transferred from the program, including two starters.
A similar exodus of players from the women’s basketball program led to an investigation in 2017 and the eventual departure of coach Jody Adams-Birch during the middle of the season. She was accused of verbally abusing her players.
During an exhibition game in Canada in August 2016, Marshall had to be restrained by coaches and players from confronting two referees. He was ejected from the game and suspended by WSU from the next game of the tour.