ROCK HILL, S.C. — Tom Hickman, former Winthrop athletic director, said the university suspended Gregg Marshall at least once for the basketball coach's behavior while both were at the school. The once-AD, however, also denied that Marshall was abusive or racist.
Marshall, now the head coach at Wichita State, is under investigation for allegedly physically and verbally abusing his players there. The Athletic on Tuesday reported that Marshall also allegedly abused players and made at least one racist comment during his tenure at Winthrop, where he coached from 1998 until 2007.
In phone conversations with The Herald on Tuesday and Wednesday, Hickman could not recall the specifics of Marshall's suspension or whether it included missing games or other basketball activities.
"There was at least one occasion where there was a suspension of some type," Hickman told The Herald on Tuesday. "I feel very comfortable with the way we handled things here. Now, not all of the players liked the atmosphere that he had. He was tough. He was hard. He conditioned them hard, and that was particularly true early on, when he first came in.
Hickman, who retired in 2016 after 27 years at the Rock Hill school, said he had discussions with Marshall about his behavior, particularly early on during Marshall's tenure.
"Gregg, is he temperamental? Yeah. But I don't think that he is really abusive to the players that were here in a way that warranted any action further than what we took. You know, there could be letters of reprimand, for instance. I don't remember specifically, but if there were ever situations, as I said before, that needed to be addressed in some way, then we did it."
Hickman also told The Herald that the university's issues with Marshall stemmed from the coach's use of profanity.
"I think what we dealt with most often was language," Hickman said, adding, "And so, you know, that was something we were paying attention to. But again, I don't have any first-hand knowledge of any physical abuse."
Jack Frost, former sports information director at Winthrop during Marshall's time there, told The Herald in a phone interview earlier this month that he never saw or heard of Marshall physically abusing players while he was the coach at the school.