Editor's Note: Today, Mark Janssen of "K-State Sports Extra" enters Part 2 of his three-part question and answer visit with Kansas State University President Dr. Kirk Schulz.
By Mark Janssen
Sports Extra: A year ago, you talked about having a presence in Kansas City and in other metropolitan areas where there is a significant Kansas State alumni base. You have to be excited about the September 18 football game with Iowa State in Kansas City, as well as the basketball exposures with UNLV and the College Basketball Experience at the Sprint Center.
Dr. Kirk Schulz: Yes we are. We're working on a plan to "Paint The Town Purple" in Kansas City on the Friday before the Iowa State game. We want to be proactive and encourage our people to display their purple on that day. I've heard so often that Johnson County is KU territory, but then I drive around and see the Powercat license plates. I'm not willing to concede that it's KU territory. We have some proud K-Staters in Kansas City, and we're asking them to show it.
SE: Kirk, do you hope to take more games to Arrowhead Stadium or other professional venues in the region?
Schulz: If we can make the revenue work in Kansas City, yes. Then it becomes a question of a conference game or a regional opponent. We're also looking at other stadiums in the country. I'd love to see our major athletic teams showing up in Dallas and Denver where we have solid alumni bases and where we're trying to recruit students. Dallas and Denver are on that list, and then Chicago is a little lower on the list.
SE: You mention basketball as a priority. I would imagine that Frank Martin's run to the Elite Eight last year was a most enjoyable experience for you.
Schulz: Oh my, yes. Men's basketball clearly had a positive effect on how people perceived our school. A lot of people who have followed K-State for many years were saying that it's back to where it used to be. Kansas State is perceived to be on par, if not better, than KU.
The national exposure helped our overall University, and I enjoyed every bit of that.
SE: Contracts, specifically of Frank Martin's, made news during your first year. In general, are the salaries that coaches are getting today a concern?
Schulz: Yes ... and I don't have a solution. In other areas I can come up with a solution. It may be outlandish, but I can come up with a couple options. This one, I don't have an answer for. It's hard to take a stand.
I will tell you this. I've never dealt with a sports agent before. That was a new deal to me. That was an eye-opening experience.
SE: But would you agree that salaries are out of whack?
Schulz: I think they are ... very much so. Mack Brown (Texas football coach) is making $5 million. Mack is a helluva coach and he's had success, but should any college be paying anybody $4 or 5 million? I know what my opinion is on that. It's been said for a number of years that at some point revenues of programs are going to cap out. The days of increasing fundraising by 10 percent so we can afford to do some of these contracts are over. A whole lot of places are going flat, or even down, in producing revenue.
SE: You have your "K-State 2025" vision in place, which is a road map of the next 15 years for Kansas State University. Does a portion of that touch the world of athletics?
Schulz: Absolutely. We're looking to improve ourselves. If any head coach said he was satisfied being in the bottom half in the conference, you would say, 'What are you talking about? Get rid of him!'
In academics, if we're 12th or near the bottom in our conference, people aren't as upset as they should be. We're taking the aspirations for athletics and taking those expectations to the rest of the University in their own particular discipline. In every area, we want to compete with Texas and Texas A&M, whether it's sports or chemical engineering.
We're going to pick eight particular measurable areas and see where we stack up. If it's research, OK, how do we stackup in the Big 12? These have to be measurable areas and we want to place high in the Big 12.
SE: To place high as a total University?
Schulz: Absolutely. K-State needs to aspire to greater things. Under Dr. Wefald, we talked about our Rhodes and Trumans, which were great ... fantastic. But now I hear, 'Kirk, you're not promoting that all the time.' I say, 'No, I'm trying to promote 20 things about our University. We have to aspire higher in a variety of areas.'
When we talk to our donors, they want to see us aspire higher. They will give you $500,000, but if you aspire higher, they might give you $5 million. We want to be able to ask for $5 million because we have a plan to get to a higher level. We want to develop a mood of, 'You're going somewhere and I want to come along for the ride.'
SE: Like there is in athletics.
Schulz: Like there is in athletics.
Friday: We complete our visit with President Schulz by taking a look at upgrading the K-State facilities and the plan in place to use athletics to advertise the total University.
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at email@example.com.