Sources: Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall Punched Player, Choked Assistant

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Wichita State forward Shaq Morris told Stadium that he was punched twice by coach Gregg Marshall during a 2015 practice. Marshall also allegedly choked assistant coach Kyle Lindsted during the 2016-17 season, three eyewitnesses told Stadium.

The incidents involving Morris and Lindsted were part of numerous allegations of physical and verbal abuse by Marshall against members of Wichita State’s program, more than 30 former and current members of the basketball program told Stadium.

Marshall routinely physically and verbally abused members of the program and demeaned his players with ethnic and racial slurs, sources said.

Upon learning of Stadium’s reporting, Wichita State initiated an investigation into Marshall last month, hiring Tueth Keeney out of St. Louis, sources told Stadium. Several players, including Morris, told Stadium they had been contacted by the law firm.

Marshall did not respond to multiple requests from Stadium on Thursday. Wichita State athletic director Darron Boatright referred Stadium to the school’s “strategic communications unit.”

During its six-month investigation, Stadium contacted 36 former and current members of the Wichita State basketball program – 26 players and 10 assistant coaches who have played for or coached with Marshall at some point during his 13 years with the Shockers.

“He’s a maniac, a bully,” said a former assistant. “He disrespects people, brings up personal stuff, family, girlfriends.”

Among the allegations Stadium uncovered:

  • Marshall punched Morris in the head during a practice in October of 2015. “I love my teammates, the city and Wichita State,” said Morris, who played at Wichita State from 2014-18. “But if I could go back to that day when he punched me, I would have left.”
  • Marshall choked Lindsted, then a Shockers assistant coach, at a practice during the 2016-17 season, sources said. Lindsted, now an assistant at Minnesota, declined comment.
  • Marshall taunted junior forward Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler, who is of Native American descent, “to get back on his horse” and made “Indian howling noises” while in practice during the 2018-19 season.
  • Marshall body-shamed a former player by lifting his shirt up during a practice in the 2015-16 season, grabbing the player’s stomach and then mocking the player’s girth.

Of the 36 players and coaches Stadium interviewed, only Morris and former Wichita State guard Ty Taylor agreed to be identified for this report. The remaining individuals, who corroborated the allegations against Marshall, said they feared retribution and possible community backlash because of Marshall’s support and power in Wichita.

In the past two years, 10 players have transferred from Wichita State, including seven after last season. That’s nearly double the national average, and an unusually high number of defections for such a storied program. Each player Stadium contacted said Marshall’s treatment of players and coaches they experienced and witnessed was the primary reason for leaving the program. Stadium spoke to eight of the 10 players who left over the past two seasons.

“He doesn’t know how to treat people,” a former player said. “I felt like I wasn’t playing for him, but that I was playing against him. He f—– me up mentally.”

Marshall, 57, has been at Wichita State since 2007 and is the school’s all-time winningest coach. He earned $3.5 million in base salary this past season, according to a contract obtained by Stadium. Marshall’s greatest success was from 2011-18, taking the Shockers to seven consecutive NCAA Tournaments, including the 2013 Final Four.

The most damning allegations Stadium uncovered involved Marshall punching Morris, who played at Wichita State from 2014-18, and Marshall choking former assistant Lindsted.

According to Morris and six of his former teammates, during an Oct. 22, 2015 practice, hours prior to Shocker Madness, Morris went up to block a shot by teammate Zach Brown, causing Brown to land awkwardly on his back.

“It was probably a foul, but it wasn’t malicious,” one player recalled. “But Zach landed hard and it just set everything off.”

Morris told Stadium, “I went over to help (Brown) up, and as I was helping him up to make sure he was okay, bam – I’m struck on the left side of my face with a punch.

“I turned back with my fists ready to punch or swing. I don’t know who did what and I see Marshall standing there. I turned around and started walking out.”

One player said Marshall called Morris a “mother (expletive).” Another recalled Marshall saying, “I know you did it on purpose to try and hurt him.” A third player said Marshall “cursed, shoved and bumped” Morris, then all the players said Morris was kicked out of the gym by Marshall.

Morris, 26, told Stadium words were exchanged between him and Marshall and then Marshall told Morris to go on the opposite court and “roll on the court until practice is over.” Morris refused and began walking out of the gym.

“He punched me while I was facing away over my right shoulder, hit me in my jaw,” Morris said. “I turned and coaches are surrounding us at the time.”

Each of the six players independently interviewed by Stadium said Morris was punched in the head by Marshall while walking out of the gym. One more player in attendance verified that Marshall punched Morris. Former Wichita State guard Ty Taylor, who transferred to UNC Wilmington after the season, told Stadium that he witnessed Marshall punch Morris in his head.

“Shaq walks away and Marshall punches him in the back of the head,” a former player said. “I’m in disbelief. He’s done flagrant stuff, but that was probably the reason I (transferred). I lost respect for him as a man. The worst part is that Shaq had told Marshall earlier that day that his mom had cancer.”

Morris confirmed the incident came just hours after a meeting with Marshall in which he said he broke down in tears while telling Marshall that he had been informed his mother, Tonya Taylor, who later passed away in July of 2019, was battling cancer.

Following the incident, Morris and multiple other players said that team leader Fred VanVleet, currently with the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, told an assistant the players would not practice the following day unless Marshall apologized to Morris.

“He comes down in the film room and says, ‘First off, I just want to apologize to you and he pointed at me. Then he said, “We good? We good? We good? All right, let’s move on.”

“Shaq didn’t say (anything) and finally said ‘alright,’” one player recalled. “Then they turned the film on and the next day we practiced.”

The following season, Marshall allegedly had another physical altercation – this time with an assistant coach.

During a practice in the 2016-17 season, Rashard Kelly worked with Lindsted and the forwards, instead of the big men, where he had been assigned by Marshall. When Marshall saw Kelly was not practicing with the big men, he went “bonkers,” a player said.

Two players independently told Stadium, Marshall put his hands around Lindsted’s throat and began trying to choke him because he was frustrated with the assistant coach. Morris also said he witnessed the incident.

“I looked over and saw coach Marshall choking him,” Morris said. “Then people started de-escalating the situation, trying to calm him down.”

“We were in complete shock,” one player said. “To see him do that to another coach was crazy.”

Lindsted had been an assistant at Wichita State for three seasons (2015-18). He left in May of 2018 for an assistant’s job at Minnesota, where he is currently coaching.

Contacted multiple times by Stadium, Lindsted declined comment.

Morris and multiple players independently claimed that Marshall body-shamed a former player, who has chosen to remain anonymous, during the 2015-16 season. Morris said Marshall “lifted his shirt, grabbed his stomach, was shaking it.” Another player said Marshall then “was cursing at the strength coach for how out of shape” the player was after pulling up his shirt, and then continued mocking the player’s girth.

The player’s father told Stadium that his son has dealt with ongoing anxiety and depression since feeling forced to leave Wichita State. “Not only did he ruin his basketball career, but he’s ruined his life,” the father said. “He needs to understand what he’s doing to people.”

Other allegations made by the current and former Wichita State players and coaches include:

  • Marshall told senior center Jamie Echenique, who is from Colombia, that he would be “a great coffee bean picker” because Echenique struggled at times catching the ball.
  • When freshman forward Josaphat Bilau collapsed after running sprints during a workout in the preseason of 2019 and needed assistance from the training staff, Marshall mocked Bilau by falling down on the court. Marshall then also stumbled around as if he was disoriented. “He tries to intimidate and bully people,” said a former assistant. “It’s mostly just horrible verbal abuse.”
  • During a practice in 2018, Marshall demanded that junior forward Morris Udeze say he himself was “stupid” after Marshall said Udeze ran a play incorrectly. “Morris wouldn’t say it,” a player said. “So we had to run.” Udeze previously had put his name in the transfer portal but ultimately decided to stay at Wichita State.
  • Erik Stevenson was wide open and didn’t shoot the ball one day in practice this past season. The player closing out on him defensively was black. While in film session, Marshall paused the film. “I think you’re afraid of brothers, guys raised by their grandparents eating PB&J’s.” One black player told Stadium he felt that was a racist remark.

A majority of the players interviewed by Stadium for this story said they bonded together because of how Marshall treated them.

“We were tight-knit off the court,” a player said. “We all wanted to beat Marshall up. If he wasn’t the head coach, we’d whoop his ass. I’m not a fan. I’m not rooting for him. I got tired of being mother(bleeped) and being called a son of a bitch every day.”

Added another: “It’s crazy how us hating him made us closer. We all hated him.”

“Basketball was no longer fun for me,” another former player said. “I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t even enjoy living life then. I’m not saying I was thinking about committing suicide, but 99 percent was because of how he treated us. We all hated Marshall so much it made us closer together, like a brotherhood.”

However, two former players and one current assistant coach defended Marshall, telling Stadium they didn’t witness any physical or verbal abuse in their time with Wichita State.

“He’s always been respectful to me and my family,” one player told Stadium. “He’s one of the reasons why I had so much success playing the game. I have nothing but respect for him.”

But those who transferred said the primary reason was because of Marshall, and it wasn’t only the players who clashed with Marshall. He’s also had numerous run-ins – both physical and verbal – with former assistant coaches.

“The bottom line is that it’s oppressive, not discipline,” said a former assistant. “It’s stuff you wouldn’t believe.”

“He’s smart, a great coach,” added another. “Just a bad person.”

Morris played professionally in Japan last season, and said he “does not love basketball any more because of Gregg Marshall.” Morris chose to go public at this time after hearing stories about Marshall from a current player.

“He (Marshall) is still that guy to me, and that was confirmation,” Morris said. “If we can stop it so it never happens to any other player here at Wichita State University again, that’s my cue to go on the record. … With the insight I have from the current players, they want a change and I want that change for them, for their future and for their well-being. I feel like it should be done now.”

“I’m also doing this for the people in Wichita who want the truth as well,” he added. “I hope that people will support my truth and I know there will be people who don’t.”