Wichita State is conducting an internal investigation into men’s basketball coach Gregg Marshall’s behavior, the school confirmed on Friday.
“The university is in the process of an independent investigation conducted by Tueth Keeney, a St. Louis-based law firm,” a statement from Wichita State said. “The investigation is being completed in an expeditious and deliberate manner. We have received full cooperation from university staff, coaches, and current student-athletes, and Coach Gregg Marshall and support any individual who chooses to participate in order to conduct a fair, impartial and thorough investigation.
“In the interim, activities of the team will continue as scheduled, and, as it does regularly, the university has reminded all staff, coaches and student-athletes of relevant policies and channels for reporting concerns.”
The Athletic reported Thursday multiple allegations against Marshall from the 2015-16 season, including Marshall pushing and later punching former player Shaquille Morris; Marshall putting one of his hands around a staff member’s neck; and Marshall following and trying to punch a student-athlete in another sport who parked in his parking spot.
“I am aware of concerns about my record and treatment of my players that has led to an independent investigation by the university,” Marshall said in a statement Friday. “I have cooperated fully with the investigation and support the university’s efforts to understand the concerns that have been raised. I look forward to the conclusion of this process and will continue to focus my energy on our team.”
Morris told Stadium that Marshall punched him during a practice. Following a foul, Morris said he went to help teammate Zach Brown up and was then struck with a punch by Marshall.
“He punched me while I was facing away over my right shoulder, hit me in my jaw,” Morris told Stadium. “I turned, and coaches are surrounding us at the time.”
The incident, according to Morris, came the same day he told Marshall that his mother was stricken with cancer. Stadium also reported that the staff member whom Marshall attempted to choke was former assistant coach Kyle Lindsted, who is now at Minnesota.
Lindsted told ESPN on Friday he had “no comment” about the report.
Other allegations reported by Stadium, which talked to more than 30 current and former members of the program, include Marshall body-shaming a player who is now dealing with anxiety and depression; Marshall making “Indian howling noises” and telling Isaiah Poor Bear Chandler, who is of Native American descent, “to get back on his horse”; Marshall telling Colombian center Jaime Echenique he would be “a great coffee bean picker”; and Marshall telling Erik Stevenson that he was “afraid of brothers, guys raised by their grandparents eating PB&Js.”
In his statement Friday, Marshall said: “My coaching style isn’t for everyone. Many players thrive in the system we have created and are energized by our team culture. For those players, I am a motivator, a pusher, someone who can tap into their greatest potential. For others, I can be demanding, harsh or strict. I don’t argue with those descriptions.
“What I am not is demeaning or abusive. I have deep respect for all my players. I believe unequivocally in their value as athletes, as students, and as people. Any portrayal of me to the contrary is wrong.
“I have always pledged my full-hearted commitment to my team. I hope that no player or coach in my program ever doubts my respect for them or my investment in their success.”
Wichita State saw a mass exodus from its basketball program last spring, with eight players initially entering the transfer portal. Morris Udeze ultimately returned to the Shockers, but Asbjorn Midtgaard (Grand Canyon), Grant Sherfield (Nevada), DeAntoni Gordon (Northwest Mississippi Community College), Noah Fernandes (UMass), Stevenson (Washington), Jamarius Burton (Texas Tech) and walk-on Tate Busse all departed.
Marshall has been the head coach at Wichita State since 2007, leading the Shockers to a Final Four appearance in 2013 and five Missouri Valley Conference championships. In 2013-14, Wichita State entered the NCAA tournament with a 34-0 record before losing to Kentucky in the second round. Wichita State moved into the American Athletic Conference in 2017 and hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since its first season in the league.
The Shockers finished 23-8 last season and were squarely on the bubble before the NCAA tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
ESPN’s Myron Medcalf contributed to this report.