COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) - South Carolina's men's basketball coach isn't about to join the fight over the Confederate flag.
More than a decade ago, state lawmakers moved to take the flag off the State House dome and placed it along Gervais Street alongside the Confederate Soldier memorial. The move was made after civil rights groups protested the flag flying on the dome.
Many still argue that compromise was not good enough, and the flag should be completely removed from State House grounds and placed in a museum.
Shortly after the flag was moved, and in response to the situation, the NCAA banned all pre-determined postseason tournament play from the state of South Carolina. That includes NCAA basketball tournament regionals, which are chosen far in advance.
But, don't expect Martin to start pushing for the flag to be removed.
"I wish my job were so simple where I could put my focus on that. I understand that's something of tremendous importance. I get it, but I've got to worry about building my program first," said Martin. "Like that old song says I've got 99 problems...well, that's not one of them right now."
The Palmetto State could benefit economically from hosting events like a regional which provide substantial national exposure, and has the facilities and infrastructure to host an NCAA regional at Columbia's 18,000 seat Colonial Life Arena or Greenville's Bi-Lo Center.
South Carolina's collegiate teams could also benefit from such a move if they were to reach postseason play and get placed in their home arena for a regional.
Martin says, at least for him, that isn't an option right now.
"If we can get to where that's a problem for me, then we'll deal with that when the time comes," said Martin. "I've got to fight the battles I can control right now, and that battle's my team, and how we play and the next step for us to become a better basketball program."
The Gamecocks finished the regular season with a 14-17 overall record. The only way they can reach the NCAA tournament is to win this week's Southeastern Conference tournament in Nashville. South Carolina opens tournament play against Mississippi State Wednesday night.
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