Today's letter is being completed on a 7 a.m. flight to DFW after I had the privilege last night of witnessing K-State's gritty 3-2 comeback baseball win over the Longhorns in Austin. Right up the road in Waco on Friday, freshman hammer thrower Sara Savatovic won the Big 12 championship with a 64-foot toss which also re-establishes the Serbian national record she already held! You can follow the track championships on www.kstatesports.com and www.big12sports.com as action heats up with several Wildcats in contention and you can also catch the free audio feed for the baseball game at 2 p.m.
Also competing for the Big 12 title beginning this morning at 9:40 a.m. will be our rowing team in Kansas City. Good luck to all the K-State student-athletes in action this weekend!
It has been a busy and productive week, but I am definitely ready for my family to pick me up later this morning after American Eagle brings me into MHK on the 10:45 a.m. arrival. Here are a few highlights from my week on the road.
We started our Big 12 meetings on Tuesday in Phoenix, but I flew out of MHK through DFW into Tucson on Monday afternoon to see Arizona's nearly-completed football center and end zone expansion. My good friend and Arizona AD Greg Byrne gave me a comprehensive tour of their impressive facility, which is being built by Mortenson -- the same company that is teaming with GE Johnson to construct the West Stadium Center. Additionally, the UA building was designed by Heery, the co-designer of the WSC along with Kansas City's AECOM. It is always good to benchmark ourselves with our competition and get ideas for future phases of the Bill Snyder Family Stadium Master Plan.
Good Evening K-State Nation,
It's been a beautiful day in Kansas as Senior Associate AD Chad Weiberg and I made the drive down to Wichita to a luncheon with over 100 K-Staters at Koch Industries. Among the many in attendance were recent Wildcat student-athlete graduates Victor Ojeleye (basketball) and Daniel Dellasega (baseball) who are among the many financial analysts, engineers and other professionals at Koch, which is annually one of the largest recruiters of K-State graduates.
We have now made our way over to Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson to watch final round action of the Big 12 Men's Golf Championship. The men's golf squad has endured some tough weather conditions on the course this week, but the sun is out today as all nine teams wrap up play. It has been a pleasure serving as the host institution at this week's tournament, and I appreciate all our staff, including Cole Walker (operations), Mindy Hoffman (athletic training) and Kenny Lannou and Jesse Piper (media relations/communications), who helped make the event run smoothly amidst the weather delays - including yesterday's snow and ice storm! Next year Wichita State will be the host institution for the 2014 NCAA Men's Championship here, so golf enthusiasts should make plans to watch the nation's best collegiate golfers right here at Prairie Dunes.
Good Afternoon K-State Nation,
I trust you are managing the wild swings of weather we are experiencing, but we certainly are all grateful for the moisture that means so much to our agricultural community here in the state of Kansas. Speaking of that, congratulations to Coach Hill and our baseball team for overcoming not just rain and plummeting temperatures last night but also a 6-1 Wichita State lead in the 8th inning. It was a thrill to watch the 'Cats score five runs in the bottom of the 8th and then the game-winner in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Shockers 7-6 and improve to 24-10 on the year, currently the second-best overall win total in the Big 12. Despite the weather of the last two months our team has not missed a single home game, thanks in part to the hard work of our game operations staff and new full field AstroTurf infill surface we installed two years ago at Tointon Family Stadium - another way your Ahearn gifts and ticket purchases directly impact the student-athlete experience and K-State's ability to compete. We especially appreciate the fans and ushers who braved the soggy weather to support the squad to the end!
This past weekend I journeyed to Atlanta for various AD meetings surrounding the men's Final Four on Friday and Saturday before making it back to MHK on American Eagle Sunday just in time to catch the third game of our baseball series sweep of Texas Tech. On Saturday morning I attended a very interesting and frank discussion with NCAA President Mark Emmert along with about 90 other AD's and commissioners. Clearly there is a feeling among many AD's nationally that they have been somewhat purposely detached from the national policy-making process over the last few years. I am again reminded how fortunate we are to have an inclusive and communicative leader here at K-State in our President Kirk Schulz - my fellow AD's around the country are very glad that President Schulz is now becoming involved at the highest level as a member of the NCAA (and Big 12) Board of Directors' Executive Committee! I also enjoyed being able to sit at the breakfast table next to my good friend and colleague, Wichita State AD Eric Sexton - congratulations to the Shockers on a great NCAA run.
Good Afternoon K-State Nation,
It is a beautiful day in Manhattan as we get ready for a busy weekend of K-State student-athletes in action across the nation! Of course here in Bramlage Coliseum we are looking forward to a great crowd for tonight's 7 p.m. third-round WNIT matchup with Ball State. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here, so come out and support seniors Brittany Chambers and Mariah White and our Wildcats as they continue to charge through the bracket. Brittany is as hot as any player in the country right now as she followed her school-record 42 points against Texas Southern with 28 versus Illinois State in the second round! Watch on K-StateHD.TV if you can't be there in person or listen live across the K-State Sports Network or online at k-statesports.com.
Happy March Madness!
First off, I want to congratulate Big 12 Coach of the Year Bruce Weber and our men's basketball team on their Big 12 Championship and berth in the NCAA Tournament as well as Coach Patterson and our women's team on persevering and earning a bid to the WNIT. Both teams will be playing this week in our own backyard -- we hope to see you Thursday night at Bramlage for the 7 p.m. WNIT battle with Texas Southern and then Friday afternoon at the Sprint Center in Kansas City for our NCAA Second Round matchup at 2:10 p.m. against either La Salle or Boise State.
I would like to thank our fans for both their patience and persistence in securing their seats in the Sprint Center for what is a very hot and tough ticket in Kansas City this weekend. For those in the area, with or without tickets to the tournament, be sure and come to the Power and Light District Friday at 12:15 p.m. for a pregame pep rally!
Can you believe it is March 5? Time flies when you are having fun, and having our men's basketball team ranked ninth and battling for a Big 12 title in the last week of the season definitely qualifies as fun! Tonight's 7 p.m. game against TCU is very special as the winningest senior class in K-State history - Rodney McGruder, Jordan Henriquez and Martavious Irving - will take to the court for their final game in Bramlage Coliseum. Please arrive early to salute these seniors and their families! A limited number of general admission tickets remain and can be purchased by clicking here, by phone at 1-800-221-CATS or at the Bramlage ticket office.
Before we get to a few other departmental updates we have important breaking news regarding our 2013 football schedule to bring to your attention.
In just a few hours our 13th-ranked men's basketball team will host Bob Huggins and West Virginia here in the Octagon of Doom on ESPN's Big Monday national stage. Tip time at Bramlage is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT, and we are anticipating another packed house and electric atmosphere. Congratulations also to Angel Rodriguez for being named Big 12 Player of the Week!
This past weekend was full of competition and exciting activities here on campus beginning with Thursday's kickoff event for the nine-month celebration of K-State's 150th anniversary. It was great to see the thousands of K-Staters inside Ahearn Field House on Thursday walking through all of the exhibits while enjoying a classic K-State tradition - Call Hall ice cream. On Friday evening more than 800 K-Staters from all generations attended the sold-out "Gala 150" in the Hilton Garden Inn's first-class banquet center. Congratulations and thanks to all the 150th committee members who have worked so hard to plan this special celebration period, including Jackie Hartman and Megan Umscheid in the President's office, who are spearheading the effort.
My Saturday started with a 9:00 a.m. visit and question-and-answer session with our nationally recognized Alumni Association's Board of Directors. Our Associate Athletic Director for Compliance Lindsey Babcock accompanied me and did a great job of explaining a number of national issues. After a tour of the BTF and WSC with a couple special guests, at 11 a.m. we held our third facility groundbreaking in the last 24 months with a ceremony formally initiating construction on our new Intercollegiate Rowing Center! As we continue to strive toward our goal of a model intercollegiate athletics program, the IRC will dramatically enhance the experience of our 90-plus female rowing student-athletes. The IRC's location close to our Academic Learning Center and the new Student-Athlete Performance Table located in the West Stadium Center will help maximize the efficiency of our student-athletes. The IRC, which is being funded privately through Ahearn Fund contributions and athletics department revenue without the aid of tax, tuition or general university dollars, will include two state-of-the-art indoor rowing tanks, a new locker room and erg room with more than 40 rowing performance machines and office space for the coaching staff. Highlights of the ceremony were the incredibly grateful comments from team captains Aly Bronder and Adria Ley as well as seeing the excitement in the crowd of approximately 200, including many current and former rowers and their parents. Click here to read our full release and see the groundbreaking video.
Good Morning K-State Nation,
National Signing Day is underway with faxes already rolling into the Vanier Complex as Coach Snyder welcomes the newest members of the Wildcat football program. Check k-statesports.com all morning for up-to-date signee bios and videos, and be sure to watch Coach Snyder's 2 p.m. Signing Day press conference live on K-StateHD.TV.
Last night Coach Weber's 13th-ranked squad captured another Big 12 road win at Texas Tech to improve to 18-4 overall and 7-2 in the Big 12, our best nine-game start in conference play since Michael Beasley wore a Wildcat uniform in 2007-08. And tonight our women's squad, coming off a tough double-overtime game against KU on Saturday, hosts Oklahoma in Bramlage at 7 p.m. The game can also be seen on Fox Sports Midwest and also world-wide on K-StateHD.TV!
Big News for a Key Department Leader
In case you missed it, here is a link to yesterday's national announcement that Reid Sigmon, our Senior Associate AD/COO, has been named the Chief Financial Officer for the new college football playoff and national championship organization. In his new role, which will begin in April 22, Reid will join Executive Director Bill Hancock in the group's new headquarters in Dallas. He will bring valuable on-campus perspective into what makes a post-season experience special for student-athletes, coaches and institutional fans as well as credibility and common-sense to the new era of post-season football including the championship game and the new semifinals and elite bowl placement system.
While Reid's daily presence will be missed dearly, I am very proud and excited for him to have this transformational opportunity. Reid was our first hire, arriving at K-State in July 2009 after directing the Tampa Super Bowl organizing committee. We simply cannot overestimate the impact he has had on the athletics program's re-organization and fiscal growth from a forecasted $2 million operating deficit four years ago to one now recognized nationally as a model of fiscal stability with a $59 million budget this year along with $100 million in ongoing athletic facility upgrades. Thanks to Reid we have a tremendous senior staff that will continue great leadership and support for our programs.
As I discussed in my letter last week, with success comes the fact that our people, both from an administrative and coaching standpoint, are noticed by others around the country for the great work they are doing in Manhattan, and, in turn, often are targeted by other organizations or programs. This is a compliment to K-State, our student-athletes, and fans, and further evidence of the progress being made towards our vision of being a Model Intercollegiate Athletics Program.
Good Morning K-State Nation,
It's already been a busy week including two excellent days of Big 12 meetings and a big home basketball win over Texas, both of which we will review in a few moments, along with a few other topics from around the department.
However, I first want to share the very exciting news that later this morning we will be announcing that Coach Snyder has signed a new five-year contract that will solidify his services through the 2017 season. The new contract, which has an automatic rollover provision after the completion of each season mirroring the agreement signed in 2009, increases Coach's compensation to $2.75 million for the 2013 season, while annual increases of $100,000 will bring the five-year total to $14.75 million through the 2017 season. The new deal has been approved by the K-State Athletics, Inc., Board of Directors and President Kirk Schulz. Check k-statesports.com later this morning for our full announcement.
We are thrilled Coach Snyder has accepted this new contract and proud of the competitive improvement our team has made - both on the field and in the classroom - under his leadership. Coach Snyder's daily drive, focus and energy in continuing to build the K-State football program are truly remarkable and inspirational. While he is not one to focus attention on himself, President Schulz and I felt that it was important to recognize, in this very significant way, his tremendous leadership and commitment to continuing to lead the K-State football program.
Coach Snyder, our coaching staff and our student-athletes have done their part by representing the university in a first-class manner while also providing championship performances both on the field and in the classroom. Our fans have done their part by filling Bill Snyder Family Stadium every week, setting a national standard for post-season travel and investing in transformational projects such as the new West Stadium Center. Thanks to our K-State donors, over $100 million in facility improvements are currently ongoing to enhance our student-athlete and fan experience.
It was a great K-State weekend with big basketball wins over Oklahoma and TCU, respectively, exciting record-breaking track performances in Ahearn Field House and a number of tennis victories for the Wildcat netters!
Today's holiday honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., has special significance for K-State. As most K-Staters are aware, on January 19, 1968, Ahearn Field House was the site of Dr. King's last campus address prior to his assassination in Memphis.
Since arriving in Manhattan I've also learned that it was on the K-State football team that Harold Robinson in 1949 became the first African-American in the Big Seven Conference to receive an athletic scholarship, while Manhattan native Earl Woods, the late father of professional golfer Tiger Woods, later became the first African-American baseball player in the conference. Click here to read an excellent article from K-State's Division of Communication and Marketing about K-State's earliest African-American students.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and K-State is proud to have the most diverse student population in our history as well as the highest African-American student population of any four-year institution in the state of Kansas.
K-State's Office of Multicultural Programs and Diversity, led by Dr. Myra Gordon, provides terrific leadership in building an inclusive campus climate that fosters mutual understanding among diverse groups. Click here for more information on the university's multicultural programs.