Around 7:15 Thursday morning, Brown Athletics sent out a tweet that implied men’s head coach Mike Martin was receiving a contract extension:
4 years as a student-athlete at
@BrownUniversity and 7 as @BrownBasketball head coach and, thankfully, many more to come for @mmartinbrown! #evertrue
A little over an hour later, Jon Rothstein tweeted out a more definitive message:
Brown’s Mike Martin has received a long term contract extension, per release.
However, when Ivy Hoops Online requested a copy of the release from Brown Athletics that afternoon, we were informed that the department could not “confirm or deny that there was an extension.”
It would seem that Martin is in line for an extension after completing a historic season where he became the first Brown coach to be named Ivy League Coach of the Year. Martin’s Bears also finished the season with a program record 20 wins and its first-ever post-season victory, a 83-78 win over Alabama Birmingham in the CBI Tournament.
Martin orchestrated a major turnaround in his young team, going from 11-16 with a No. 267 KenPom ranking in 2017-2018 to a 20-12 mark and No. 153 KenPom rank this past season. In league play, the Bears were in seventh place with a 4-10 record a year ago and completed this year in fourth at 7-7.
The Bears success was a testament to its shift to a more aggressive defense. In a one-year period, Martin saw his team improve its adjusted defensive efficiency from 110.0 (No. 274, nationally) to 98.4 (No. 68) and its three point defense from 37 percent (No. 278) to 30 percent (No. 17). They also limited opponents to 68.9 points per game, one year after allowing teams to score 79 points per contest.
On top of his Coach of the Year award, Martin was also honored by being named an assistant coach for USA Basketball at the upcoming Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
With all of Martin’s positive results, why would there be a hint of an extension without a confirmed deal from Brown?
Perhaps the answer could be found 38 miles to the northwest in Worcester, Mass.
On June 18th, Ivy Hoops Online reported on the sudden retirement of former Princeton head coach Bill Carmody. The end of his career left Holy Cross with an open coaching position for incoming Director of Athletics Marcus Blossom to fill.
Blossom, who was hired in May of this year and started his new position on July 1, has a connection to the city of Providence and its Ivy League campus. In addition to being the the associate director of athletics for business operations at Providence College from 2012-2014, he was the associate director of athletics for finance at Brown from 2010-2012.
While Martin was an assistant coach on Jerome Allen’s staff at Penn during the 2010-2012 seasons, the former Brown guard (2000-2004) did return to Providence in the spring of 2012 to start his head coaching career during Blossom’s time across town with the Friars.
A July 2 mid-afternoon article at HoopDirt.com mentioned that “a current Ivy League head coach (not hard to figure out)” was reportedly among the four to six candidates being considered for the Crusaders’ job. The author also noted that he heard that at least two candidates had on-campus interviews in a process that was expected to be completed on or around July 10.
Things progressed more quickly than expected.
By early Wednesday morning, HoopDirt reported that Blossom had made his decision to hire Marquette associate head coach Brett Nelson with the Ivy head coach as the runner-up. There has been no confirmation that Martin was the Ivy coach in question, but the timing of the appreciative Brown tweet seems to be more than a coincidence.
The speed of Blossom’s search may have caused Brown to scramble to keep its coach in the fold.