Shocker Nation hopes to keep Gregg Marshall at Wichita State

Sports Editor

People always say “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.”

Shocker basketball fans seem to know what they have — and they don’t want to lose it.

Men’s basketball head coach Gregg Marshall’s name is swirling around the coaching carousal again, after another successful year at Wichita State.

This seems to happen on a yearly basis for universities not in a major conference. But, it also happens at larger schools where more money or an NBA job opening could attract a coach from a blue blood.

“I think our true fans will respect any decision made, if me or Ron decide to leave, if Coach Marshall ends up taking another job,” Fred VanVleet said after the loss to Notre Dame. “Those are huge ‘ifs’ now, but if that was happening, I would hope that people would do nothing but respect the years and the blood, sweat and tears that have been poured into this program.”

A few social media movements have started, and one of them has caught fire.

With 500 tweets and counting, the hashtag “#StayGregg” has been gaining some attention on Twitter, but it’s not the first time it has been used.

After getting the Shockers back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six years in 2012, WSU alumnus Dustin Kuhn tweeted, “VCU makes official from Chicago Sun Times earlier report by announcing Shaka Smart staying at VCU. Your move Shockers. #StayGregg.”

At the time, that tweet received no attention. However, Sunday morning, Kuhn’s phone began sending him notifications that his tweet — from three years ago — was gaining traction.

“There’s more retweets coming in now,” Kuhn said. “I don’t believe it was retweeted at all at the time. It’s funny that three years later, the exact same two coaches are still rumored for all these openings.”

If Marshall did leave WSU, he can’t be faulted, Kuhn said.

“He’s been here eight years and outside of winning a national title, he’s done just about everything you can accomplish: winning the Valley, to winning in St. Louis, to the Final Four, the Sweet 16 this year, beating KU, hosting College GameDay. I mean, we’ve been pretty spoiled.”

Kuhn said he thinks it’s cool the hashtag has been trending and Marshallville is retweeting all the tweets.

“It can’t hurt matters,” Kuhn said. “Coach doesn’t have a Twitter account, but I’m sure his son and daughter can see the support rolling in.”

Marshallville president Max Runyon said he hasn’t had a campaign like the #StayGregg hashtag take off since Marshallville was started in July 2013.

“We saw a tweet come in the other day alluding to what would Marshallville be without Marshall,” Runyon said.

That’s when vice president of Marshallville, Sam Belsan, thought, ‘what can we do to keep him here?’ So the hashtag found new life.

“It’s not very typical for us,” Runyon said. “This is really the first campaign we’ve had that got this response, and we hope it works.”

Another lifelong Shocker fan, Ron Kraus, took things even further. Talking with a friend, Kraus knew he couldn’t possibly give enough money to make a difference, so Kraus started a GoFundMe account. “Keep Gregg Marshall in Wichita,” the headline reads.

Kraus is trying to raise $1 million in donations for WSU Athletics.

“Worst case: you get nowhere,” Kraus said. “Best case: it takes off. Whether it’s for recruiting services, facility upgrades or assistant coaches’ bonuses, anything that will help out.”

Getting people to donate money to a stranger is a difficult task, Kraus said. If someone sent a link to a website or Twitter or text, he said he’d be skeptical, as well.

“My intention is true intention,” Kraus said, “to help the Athletic Department in any way to raise money to help them meet their needs to have a successful basketball program.”

He said he thinks the 10,000 season ticket holders and other fans that would like to see Marshall stay would do what they could to keep him at WSU.

Kraus’s dad, Robert, has been a season ticket holder since 1977. Kraus received his first season ticket package in 2003. He also has a 14-year-old daughter who only knows the Shockers as winners.

“[My daughter] thinks beating Kansas is something that should happen on a yearly basis,” Kraus said. “But, I lived through the ‘90s. I thought a .500 season was a good season. So, my thought was to chip in whichever way I could. Hopefully Coach Marshall will be around a few more years.”

Editor’s Note: During the author’s research, the first ever #StayGregg tweet he found was Dustin Kuhn’s. Kuhn is a friend and colleague of the author. The article was an unbiased and nonpromotional report of his findings.