Good evening from March Madness!
Hats off to the baseball team for making our night with a 6-5 triumph over the Cornhuskers at Tointon Family Stadium. I followed the game on my Blackberry via the relatively new Gametracker application- cool stuff!
On our men's basketball flight to Tucson Tuesday afternoon from Manhattan, I spent time signing a big stack of thank you notes to brand new Ahearn Fund donors.
You have heard me say many times that over half of our 200,000 alumni and friends live outside the state of Kansas. I couldn't help but notice that many of the letters were addressed to new donors from across the country, including North Carolina, Idaho, Oregon, Colorado, Montana, Arizona, New York and Texas. In just about 15 months since the Ahearn Fund was re-launched, Wildcat fans truly are indeed making it "K-State's National Fund for Athletic and Academic Excellence."
Thanks to the grass-roots support of K-Staters everywhere we are actually ahead of last year's record-setting donation pace with three months left before our fiscal year ends. Your support of K-State's 435 student-athletes allows the department to move closer towards our goal of a world-class student-athlete experience. Thank you!
This past weekend, we were very excited and privileged to be awarded NCAA Tournament berths in both men's and women's basketball. Did you know that K-State is one of just two Big 12 schools and 14 nationally to have its football team in a bowl game and both basketball teams in the NCAA Tournament this academic year?
We are also fortunate to have terrific head coaches leading all of our teams and certainly Coach Martin and Coach Patterson are very deserving of the success they have achieved this year. Not only did our women's program become the 13th school ever to reach 800-wins, but our victory over Iowa State in the Big 12 Championship marked the 300th for Coach Patterson in her career at K-State. And, Coach Martin gets my vote for Big 12 Coach of the Year after leading our men's team to a strong finish and a No. 5 seed in this week's NCAA Tournament.
Remember to catch the Cats in action this week beginning with the men's game vs. Utah State later tonight. The game will tip at approximately 8:57 p.m., CDT and will be televised nationally by TruTV, which can be found on Channel 64 in Manhattan (Cox Cable), Channel 246 on DirecTV and Channel 204 on Dish Network. The women will square off against Purdue at 1:35 p.m., CDT Sunday on ESPN2.
Speaking of academic excellence, K-State has four seniors on this year's men's and women's teams. One, Curtis Kelly, has already earned his degree and the other three, Shalin Spani, Kelsey Hill and Jacob Pullen, are all scheduled to graduate on-time in May! As the Big 12 leader in all-sports graduation rate we are proud of these four men and women for setting the right example for their younger teammates.
Coach Patterson's teams have always represented K-State the right way academically, and since his arrival in Manhattan Coach Martin has turned around our men's basketball academic performance. In fact, our most recent multi-year APR men's basketball score (through 2009-2010) is now .937, well above the .925 benchmark, thanks to our two most recent annual scores of .959 and .958.
We are proud of the progress and emphasis Coach Martin and his staff have placed on academic achievement at Kansas State as well as the tremendous environment and commitment to success of our Academic Learn Center (ALC). Again, these are areas of the athletic operation where the support of Ahearn Fund donors directly impacts student-athletes!
Prior to Sunday's NCAA basketball selection show that our team watched in the beautiful clubhouse at Colbert Hills, I spent all day Saturday in College Station, Texas, watching our track and field teams participate in the NCAA Indoor Championships. Congratulations to Coach Rovelto and the men's team for their 18th-place finish and to the seven student-athletes that earned All-America status - Moritz Cleve (heptathlon), Jeffrey Julmis (60m hurdles), Martynas Jurgilas (60m hurdles), Erik Kynard (high jump), Mantas Silkauskas (heptathlon), Nina Kokot (long jump) and Ryann Krais (pentathlon).
We have numerous other teams competing in the next week as our rowing team launches its spring season with a weekend trip to Austin, Texas, for the Longhorn Invitational. Coach Sweeney and our student-athletes have been hard at work and are anxious to get the spring schedule underway. Coach Bietau and our 53rd-ranked tennis team will head south over the weekend to take on Baylor and Texas Tech on Friday and Sunday, while the women's golf team travels to Utah for the BYU Classic early next week.
The baseball team is now 12-4 and headed for a Big 12 series in Austin this weekend.
Be sure to check k-statesports.com for all of the latest news, results and updates.
That's it for today... Go Cats!