Gregg Marshall is expected to be out as Wichita State basketball’s head coach sometime this week, according to multiple outlets, following an internal investigation sparked by reports from Stadium and The Athletic that he verbally and physically abused players and assistant coaches on several occasions.
Wichita State, which has not yet named an interim coach, will now be the second high-level coaching job to open up in the weeks leading up to the 2020-21 season after Penn State and former head coach Pat Chambers parted ways on October 21.
The opening should attract several big-name candidates even though the Shockers do not play in a power conference. They have the financial power to compete with almost anyone (Marshall was the nation’s 15th highest-paid coach last season) and are consistently one of the very best programs in the American Athletic Conference. That said, expectations are also extremely high as the Shockers expect to be one of the nation’s top non-power conference schools capable of winning games in the NCAA Tournament on an annual basis.
Those factors signal both the willingness and ability to attract top coaching talent. So, who will they go after? Here are the top five candidates to replace Gregg Marshall at Wichita State:
5) Rick Pitino, Iona
The reality is that Pitino’s name is going to be kicked around for every high profile opening between now and next offseason no matter what he says about wanting to spend the rest of his career at Iona. He’s still one of the best coaches in the sport’s history and Iona opened the doors to prolong his career by biting the PR bullet and hiring him.
Yes, there are a number of NCAA transgressions in his background, and Wichita State might be weary to bring in someone like that considering the current turmoil in which the program finds itself. However, he’s also the only head coach yet to serve any significant penalty stemming from the FBI investigation into college basketball, so there is a growing sense that he has “served his time.”
There is also the question of Pitino’s potential interest in the job. He insists he’s happy at Iona which – whether or not we believe he’ll finish his career there – will allow him to be picky about any job he goes to next if he does in fact leave. Wichita State can compete from a financial standpoint, yet there is the strong likelihood that he would hold out for a power conference job – especially with potential openings at Indiana and Texas.
4) Kyle Keller, Stephen F. Austin head coach
Keller has been all over the Midwest throughout his coaching career, serving as an assistant at Oklahoma State, Kansas, and Texas A&M before accepting the Stephen F. Austin head coaching job, his first at the D-I level. In his four seasons there, he has led the Lumberjacks to two 28-win seasons and one NCAA Tournament appearance, though they were poised for a second one in 2020 before the tournament was canceled.
Oh, he also led the Lumberjacks to that upset of Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium last season, giving the Blue Devils their first non-conference home loss since 2000.
It seems to only be a matter of time before Keller moves up the coaching ranks, though SFA is doing everything they can to keep him (he signed an extension through the 2025-26 season just last week). If the Shockers strike out on bigger names, Keller would be an excellent option given his ties to the region.
3) Kyle Lindsted, Minnesota assistant coach
Speaking of ties to the region, it will be a shock if Lindsted doesn’t at least get a call from Wichita State. Well, maybe not considering he was the former assistant Marshall was accused of choking in 2015 and the program may simply want to wash their hands of the entire situation, but everything on his resume screams that he should be a legitimate candidate.
He spent three seasons on staff (2015-2018) at Wichita State in which the Shockers went 82-22 and earned two NCAA tournament berths before leaving for Minnesota. Prior to joining Wichita State, Lindsted spent 15 seasons at Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas, turning it into one of the nation’s best prep basketball programs and a fertile recruiting pipeline.
Lindsted is the only candidate on this list that doesn’t have any head coaching experience, but his ties to the program and its recruiting ground are also greater than the other candidates on this list. That is enough to put him in the mix, at the very least.
2) John Beilein, former Michigan/Cleveland Cavaliers head coach
Like Pitino, Beilein has been linked to every high-profile college basketball opening since he resigned as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers and that will continue. He’s a proven winner with a squeaky-clean reputation, making this something of a slam dunk on the surface.
However, there are some other factors to consider. Beilein is 67 years old – how long does he plan on coaching and does that matter to Wichita State? Or does Beilein want to hold out for a bigger job, especially since he’s considered the favorite to take over at Texas should they fire Shaka Smart?
A lack of ties to the area doesn’t matter for a coach of Beilein’s stature – he’ll be successful wherever he goes. Wichita State has the financial power to make this happen if Beilein is interested. Whether he wants to take a non-power conference job at this stage of his career is another matter entirely, but that won’t stop the Shockers from pursuing him.
1) Thad Matta, former Ohio State head coach
Right now, Thad Matta is the guy Wichita State is targeting, according to Seth Davis of The Athletic.
Matta has been out of coaching since 2017 when he resigned from Ohio State citing health reasons. However, he has since expressed an interest in returning to the sidelines and, at age 53, still has a good amount of time left in his career.
Matta has been picky about a potential return, turning down other suitors that have pursued him in the past, but Wichita State could be different. There’s the financial aspect of course, but he has also spent his entire coaching career in the Midwest and had great success in the non-power conference ranks with both Butler and Xavier before joining the Buckeyes in 2004.
His high profile standing in the college basketball community, ties to the region, and immediate availability makes him the most obvious candidate to replace Marshall – and it looks like Wichita State is putting the full court press on to land him.
Brian Rauf is a college basketball writer for HeatCheckCBB.com. His content has been featured by Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report, and FanSided, among other publications. Rauf is also a current USBWA member and Rockin’ 25 voter.