Editor's Note: Today Mark Janssen of "K-State Sports Extra" completes his three-part visit with Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz.
By Mark Janssen
Sports Extra: Kirk, a year ago you said you would be a hands-off President when it came to athletics. Did you end up spending much more personal time on athletics than you expected?
Schulz: Yes I did spend more time with athletics. We have instituted a new governance structure in our KSA Board and, of course, the macro issues of the Big 12 Conference are very important to our University. But John and I have settled into a good rhythm. We talk about scheduling, but I'm not telling John who to schedule. We talk about facilities, but it's his job to put a plan in place. We're just making sure we're on the same page.
I can't do this job (Presidency) and that one, too.
Schulz: Definitely. I don't have a problem at all with putting our athletic programs out front as our marquee brand. Now, we have to figure out ways to use those teams to promote everything else we have going on campus. Just like when Coach Snyder built our football program into a national contender when he first arrived, and the national attention Coach Martin and Coach Patterson have brought to our institution, we need to take advantage of those television appearances and platforms to promote the entire University.
This year I want each person in the stands to learn one new thing about the institution, so at the end of the football season, this captive audience of 50,000 has learned six new things about Kansas State. It sounds simplistic, but when we have that captive audience, or when we're on national TV, we need to send out a message as to who we are. We want to create some ah-hah moments for this year, and the years to come.
When you see that 15- to 20-second snippet video on TV this year during telecasts, we will have online people available for that 17-year-old high school student to chat with. That student watching on TV can immediately go to the main K-State page and actually chat with someone in our admission's office, whether it's in the morning, or 10:30 at night.
SE: Kirk, the Big 12 Conference is tremendously competitive when it comes to facilities. Do you have some upgrades in mind for the near future?
Schulz: As we have talked about this year, the basketball training center is our top athletics facility priority. We must get that done. We have two national-type programs, so we need to support them. In the long term, we also want to enhance our football stadium in a way that would allow us to use the facility year-round by a broader part of our campus. As John and I have talked about, we want to always be looking at ways to improve the overall experience for all of our students, and I am pleased that we are doing things such as the seating and cosmetic enhancements at Ahearn Field House, the interior improvements to the Vanier Complex, and the opening of our new clubhouse at Colbert Hills will certainly be very beneficial to our golf programs.
SE: Kirk, any special words to the K-State faithful as we begin a new athletic season?
Schulz: Come see us and support our teams and our athletes. K-Staters showing up can make a huge difference. When our players come out and don't see an available seat, that lifts you. That's what we want for every one of our teams.