Gregg Marshall returned to Winthrop's basketball team Thursday, one day after his rousing introduction at the College of Charleston.
It seemed Marshall would try to restore the NCAA tournament success the Cougars had under his former mentor, coach John Kresse. Instead, Marshall followed the path reminiscent of former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins, who accepted the job at his alma mater South Carolina in 1993 before going back to the Yellow Jackets a few days later.
Winthrop president Anthony DiGiorgio announced Marshall's return to a packed room of Eagles supporters. Marshall received a standing ovation that brought tears to his eyes, and had to compose himself before talking about the uneasiness he had after taking the Cougars job.
"On the way home last night, I just didn't know if I could go through with it," Marshall said. "I hope I can build back your trust."
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Marshall said he spoke with DiGiorgio at midnight when the president told him he could come back if he wanted.
"I think his apology was heartfelt and was necessary for people to hear," DiGiorgio said.
Marshall has led the Eagles to six NCAA tournament appearances in his eight seasons there.
But Wednesday, Marshall pledged to bring the College of Charleston beyond where it had gone under Kresse. He was an assistant under Kresse from 1988-96 and was to replace Tom Herrion. However, no contract had been signed.
On Thursday, Marshall talked with Kresse for about an hour, explaining his decision.
"He's hurting right now just like I am," Marshall said. "It happened and I think we'll be OK."
In a statement, the College of Charleston said, "We are as disappointed as our fans and we want to assure our community and fans that we are committed to seeking the best available coach that will lead our basketball program to new heights."
Marshall said there was no one factor involved in the decision, but he thought it wasn't fair to the Cougars to have a coach filled with anxiety.
"They're spinning right now and I did not intend for that to happen," Marshall said.
Winthrop guard Chris Gaynor said he was sleeping when he got a call to come to the arena. It was then Gaynor and the rest of the team learned of Marshall's decision.
"It's been a rough couple of days, but I'm glad coach decided Winthrop is where he wants to be," Gaynor said.
Cremins had uneasiness about his move 13 years ago. He was joyously greeted by supporters and his old coach, the late Frank McGuire. But Cremins said after returning to Atlanta he had second thoughts. The Gamecocks eventually hired Eddie Fogler, who led them to two NCAA appearances and the team's only Southeastern Conference regular-season title.
Marshall said he thought about Cremins' flip-flop and realizes his move may affect his career down the road. But Marshall said if he is still at Winthrop in 10 or 15 years, "that's not a bad place to be."