Kansas State is a special place and we are proud of its current position. I am excited about the University's direction under President Schulz, whose visionary plan has K-State on track to become recognized nationally as a Top 50 public research University. With 38 nationally-ranked academic programs, K-State also is the only research University in the United States to have three national CASE/Carnegie professors of the year.
Manhattan, which was named one of the 50 best places to live in America according to Men's Journal, is one of the true classic college towns in the country, and our family has enjoyed every minute of living here. Sporting News also ranked the Little Apple at No. 91 in its latest Best Sports Cities rankings, while the addition of non-stop American Airlines flights into Manhattan has made direct travel into the community even more convenient. The city of Manhattan also announced just yesterday that non-stop jet service to Chicago will be available beginning in November!
As an athletics department, our student-athletes and programs have enjoyed success both on the field and in the classroom, largely in part due to your unwavering support. Academically, we are extremely proud that K-State has led the Big 12 in graduation rate in each of the last three years, while 211 student-athletes were named Monday to the Big 12 Spring Commissioner's Honor Roll, and later today, we will have even more good news as the NCAA releases its latest APR scores and data. Academic success is a top priority for us here at K-State and we are fortunate to have such passionate and dedicated student-athletes, coaches, faculty and academic staff.
From the return of Coach Snyder to our football program to our equestrian program's Reserve National Championship to the men's basketball run to the Elite Eight, we have also had a very successful and memorable 2009-10 athletic season. Looking back, here are some of the highlights from this past year:
- Five student-athletes have been named All-Americans, 18 were selected All-Big 12 and five earned Big 12 specialty awards for their accomplishments on the field this season.
- With Coach Snyder back on the sidelines, Football played for the North title in the regular season finale and was one win shy of appearing back in the Big 12 Championship game.
- Behind Big 12 Coach of the Year Frank Martin, Men's Basketball finished 29-8 and advanced to the program's first Elite Eight since 1988.
- Our men's basketball game in Manhattan against Kansas drew a 2.2 rating and was the highest-rated regular season Big 12 basketball game since 1997 and the most-viewed Saturday game on ESPN since 2008.
- Women's Basketball defeated two Top 25 teams at home and finished 25th nationally in attendance.
- Ashley Sweat was named First Team All-Big 12 and a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.
- Track and Field has produced two All-Americans so far in Beverly Ramos (5000m) and Erik Kynard (high jump), while Sara Stoakes was the Big 12 Champion at 800m as a true freshman.
- Women's Tennis recorded its most conference wins in four years and also registered the first 7-0 regular season victory over rival Kansas in the 34-year history of the program.
- Equestrian was the Reserve National Champion in Western at the Varsity Equestrian National Championships for its highest finish in program history.
- Men's Golf recorded six top-five finishes, while Mitchell Gregson and Joe Ida qualified for NCAA Regional play. Mitchell also was named to the PING All-Region team.
- Women's Golf finished with two top-three finishes and recorded three individual top-10 finishes and 16 top-20 finishes on the year.
- Rowing finished 10th at the South/Central Regional, while Kris Richman earned all-conference honors.
- Baseball recorded its highest regular season finish in Big 12 history (3rd), the second-most wins in school history (37) and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history. Congrats to Carter Jurica and Adam Muenster as they were both drafted yesterday by Major League Baseball clubs Carter went to the Giants in the third round, becoming the highest Wildcat position player since 1969 to be taken, while Adam was selected in the 29th round by the Reds.
And, we still have two squads wrapping up competition as five members of our track and field team will be in Eugene, Ore., this weekend for the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Good luck to Beverly Ramos, Martina Tresch, Moritz Cleve, Jeffrey Julmis and Erik Kynard as they all look to compete for national titles and add to the list of memorable athletic moments.
It is less than three months from the start of the football and volleyball seasons and we hope to see you September 4 for the second-annual K-State Family Reunion. I am pleased to report that football ticket sales are ahead of 2009 sales figures compared to this same date a year ago. And, we are grateful and pleased that our annual Ahearn Fund giving has exceeded last year's amount by more than $2 million! It is you who helps drive the success of all our athletic teams by coming to ballgames and joining the Ahearn Fund, and we are looking forward to seeing you in Bill Snyder Family Stadium this fall.
Both season football tickets and special mini-packages remain available for purchase at k-statesports.com or by calling 1-800-221-CATS. Single-game tickets, including tickets to the September 18 game at Arrowhead Stadium against Iowa State, go on sale Monday. A full list of ticket prices and options can also be found online at k-statesports.com.
I hope you all have had an enjoyable start to your summer. Again, your support has been a big part of the success we have had during my first year here at K-State in fact, I celebrated the one-year mark of being on the job here at K-State last night with a wonderful Catbacker event in Salina. It has been a great 12 months, and our staff has worked extremely hard, but there is plenty of work yet to be done! Go Cats!