COLUMBIA — Frank Martin is a prominent figure in college basketball.
The son of Cuban immigrants, he’s won 437 games over a span of 13 seasons at two schools, coached in a Final Four and is one of the most outspoken leaders in the sport.
So when the National Association of Basketball Coaches was looking for a chair to head up a committee to deal with racial reconciliation, it wasn’t hard to find their guy in Martin.
“I’m not scared to speak on topics, probably 'cause I’m not scared to be willing to express what life’s taught me," Martin said. "I’m not into the politically correct speeches; I’m willing to express what I know and I’m willing to listen so I can learn.
“I’m humble enough to know I don’t know it all. I’m humble enough to know I need to understand how other people live, how other people think. I don’t know. I didn’t ask for the job (on this committee), but the moment chose me. I think it’s a great thing and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
The committee is designed for coaches and administrators to address “issues related to racial injustice both within intercollegiate athletics and society at large,” according to the NABC release.
The initial actions are designed to deal with team communication, student-athlete engagement, connecting with leaders both internally and externally, becoming more of an advocate and a commitment to learning.
Martin’s already met with a handful of his committee twice as of last week, starting some of their initial conversations.
“We’ve brought up some great ideas, some great points. One thing we all agree on is this is a big topic,” Martin said. “If you try to put your arms around the whole thing, you’re exhausted before you start.
"I think it’s important we take an inside-out approach to how we go about this.”
Harvard’s Tommy Amaker developed the introspective approach, and the large part of the committee’s discussions have centered on education.
Martin won’t share intimate details about those publicly yet, but the philosophy is simple in terms of offering more educational opportunities for younger people.
“How can we impact this and what can we touch?” Martin said. “There’s some great topics on education and things that are out there that we feel that are not fair in the educational system pertaining to universities.
"Then some better ways to educate and better ways to open doors, open minds as to some of the history and things of that nature.”
The committee will continue to meet and try to make things better for student-athletes on campus, with the focus on education and justice reform, “specifically for younger people.”