Wichita State University has parted ways with the winningest coach in its long basketball history.
Gregg Marshall resigned Tuesday following media reports last month that alleged he was physically and verbally abusive toward players and staff during his 13-year tenure. Marshall has admitted his coaching style was tough, but denied being abusive or demeaning.
WSU said an investigation into Marshall’s behavior was completed by an outside law firm hired by the school. WSU said it will not release any records related to the investigation because they are considered confidential personnel records.
"This was a difficult decision, but one I feel was necessary for my family, the university and, most importantly, the student-athletes," Marshall said in a statement released by WSU. "I remain grateful for my years spent at Wichita State.
"I wish to thank the coaches, student-athletes, the university, the community, and all of Shocker Nation for their unending dedication, support and loyalty. I am incredibly proud of this men’s basketball program and all it has achieved over the past 14 years and am confident of its continued success."
Those successes include a run to the Final Four in 2013 and a 35-0 start the next season. WSU’s success in the Missouri Valley Conference under Marshall led the school to move to a larger and more competitive conference, the American Athletic Conference.
Marshall’s efforts were rewarded with a contract that pays more than $3 million annually, among the highest in college basketball.
The university said Marshall will receive a contract settlement of $7.75 million to be paid out over six years. The athletic department’s Intercollegiate Athletic Association fund will cover the settlement, WSU said.
"While the university acknowledges the success of the basketball program under Coach Marshall, this decision is in the best interest of the university, its student athletes and the WSU community," Athletic Director Darron Boatright said in a statement.
Assistant coach Isaac Brown was named interim head coach. The Shockers are scheduled to open their season next week.
Lance Harris was a non-scholarship player during Marshall’s first season. He said Marshall was demanding, but no more so than his high school and junior college coaches, and also fair.
"I mean, extremely fair," Harris said. "There's some coaches who play favorites and things like that. I was a walk-on, sitting at the end of the bench, and if I practiced good, he played me in games. If I practiced bad, I didn't play in games.
"But, I mean, I was used to his coaching style because every coach that I played for demanded things in that manner."
Art Louvar also played for WSU, in the 1970s, and has followed the program ever since. He said he couldn’t understand why so many players had left the program recently.
"The last couple of years watching the program, you had quite a few kids … and a couple of starters left, and you wonder, 'What's going on?'
"Marshall’s a tough coach. He's tough with them on the bench and the whole deal. So I was wondering what's really going on. And it looks like now we kind of find out what's really happened."
Marshall came to WSU in 2007 after a successful stint at Winthrop in South Carolina. His first team at WSU had a losing record, the only one under Marshall. He took WSU to an NIT championship in 2011 and seven trips to the NCAA Tournament. Only Ralph Miller, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, coached as many seasons as Marshall did at WSU.
The Shockers began playing basketball in 1905, and when the team is playing well, tickets are difficult to come by. Louvar said that legacy will help the program move on to the next chapter.
"We have great tradition, and it's a great basketball town to play in," he said. "I think, for a year or so, it's going to hurt us, and hopefully we make the right (coaching) hire."