This story was largely missed during a busy news week: Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall allegedly, among other things, punched a player, body-slammed a player and mocked a player for his Native American heritage.
The Athletic’s C.J. Moore and Dana O’Neil first reported the allegations (and the Wichita State’s internal investigation) on Thursday night. It comes seven months after the program was gutted by transfers; the Shockers lost six scholarship players and one walk-on from a 23-win team on the verge of an eighth NCAA Tournament in the last nine years, a run that included the 2013 Final Four. (They also released 2020 three-star forward Ja’Dun Michael from his letter of intent.)
Most of the allegations stem from a 2015-16 season that ended with a loss to Miami in the second round of the tournament. Among them: Marshall is accused of punching then-sophomore forward Shaq Morris during practice and putting his hand around the neck of an assistant coach during a preseason workout. Off the court, Marshall is also accused of attempting to punch a non-basketball student-athlete after the student-athlete parked in Marshall’s parking spot.
Over the last six months, Jeff Goodman and Stadium conducted an investigation in which they spoke to 36 current and former players and coaches, some of whom made the same allegations while others called him a “maniac” and said he body-slammed a player:
“Marshall body-shamed a former player by lifting his shirt up during a practice in the 2015-16 season, grabbing the player’s stomach and then mocking the player’s girth,” Goodman wrote on Friday. “Of the 36 players and coaches Stadium interviewed, only Morris and former Wichita State guard Ty Taylor agreed to be identified for this report. The remaining individuals, who corroborated the allegations against Marshall, said they feared retribution and possible community backlash because of Marshall’s support and power in Wichita.”
Marshall arrived at Wichita State in 2007 after a nine-year run at Winthrop and has 331 wins in 13 seasons. Prior to his arrival, the Shockers had never won more than 27 games in a season; he’s won at least 27 games six times, including 35 wins in 2013-14, only three wins shy of the all-time record. As of last year, his $3.6-million salary ranked 15th among all coaches and more $2 million higher than any other AAC coach (John Brannen, $1.5 million).
“The portrait that emerges from the stories isn’t just one of a deranged coach,” Yahoo’s Pete Thamel wrote. “It veers into an ethically challenged university allowing a coach to act this way. Ultimately, this shows how a small-time university thirsty for a sliver of national notoriety enabled its star coach instead of deterring his behavior and demanding change. To say that the athletic department and university higher-ups didn’t hear about this behavior means that they pressed their palms firmly against their ears and screamed loud enough to drown out the bad news.”
In a text message to The Athletic, Marshall said he’s fully participating in the investigation and looking forward to having it “wrapped up.”
Only 31 years ago...
USC had 12 linebackers on their depth chart. Today, five are them are dead.
In a sobering, depressing, and terrifying must-read story, Sports Illustrated's Michael Rosenberg returns to 1989 with accounts and notes from the 12 men who led the Trojans to nine wins, including their 19th Rose Bowl win, and later lost five of their brothers before the age of 50.
“It would be easy to say the game was a mistake—for Matt, for David, for Scott, for Alan, even for Junior," writes Rosenberg. "Without football, Matt might be alive. But without football, he would not have met Alana, would not have had three kids, would not have built lifelong friendships, would not have enjoyed most of what made his life so great. The bridge from age 20 to age 50 looks a lot shorter after you cross it.”
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