Good Morning K-State Nation!
Today's beautiful MHK sunrise was preceded by a 6:52 a.m. text message from President Schulz informing me that the Big 12 Board of Directors has approved our new long-term ESPN/FOX contract for all 10 members! President Schulz, Commissioner Bowlsby and the entire Big 12 family have done a great job throughout this process. We emerge with a brighter conference future than ever before, while Big 12 student-athletes will receive unprecedented national exposure with this new 13-year agreement. Click here to read the official conference release and our statement.
We've got an exciting weekend of K-State sports action for which to look forward as well. Let's first congratulate Suzie Fritz and the volleyball team for a great victory last night over St. Mary's, a perennially strong west coast program, and a win which moves the Cats to a perfect 8-0 for the year!
Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the match in person, but was able to follow the scores via K-State Sports' free live Twitter feed (@kstate_gameday) between meetings in the DFW area. Yesterday was a prime example of the convenience and connectivity provided by American Eagle's five daily non-stops flights to Dallas and Chicago from MHK. Here's a recap of your AD's Thursday schedule:
5:25 a.m. - I depart the house.
5:35 a.m. - Boarding pass in hand, I arrive at MHK where parking is free and security is friendly and fast.
6:20 a.m. - AA flight 2816 takes off right on-time. I spend the flight catching up on emails.
8:00 a.m. - I'm in the car on my way to my first appointment. I make my first of about 10 calls throughout the day to other ADs about future football games - got to work towards our goal of seven home games each year.
9:00 a.m. - Breakfast with Dutch Baughman, executive director of the Division 1-A Athletic Director's Association. Dutch is a constant advocate for the welfare of student-athletes as well as integrity and professional development in our profession. (His many career accomplishments include hiring Frank Beamer as football coach at Virginia Tech!)
10:30 a.m. - At the Big 12 office. While waiting to see Commissioner Bob Bowlsby I catch up with Basketball Associate Commissioner John Underwood and several other staff members. Senior Associate Commissioner Tim Allen (a K-State grad) gives me an update on a few schedule issues and his best guess on a few game times for later this fall. I tape a segment for the Big 12 digital network with Wendell Barnhouse. As always, Big 12 executive assistant Melanie Ellis has a smile and kind words for visitors, while Brad Clement is working on the details of various Big 12 future meetings and events.
Downstairs there is an annual meeting of the Big 12 track and field coaches including our own renowned Cliff Rovelto, but I stay upstairs and out of the way!
After a great discussion and update with Commissioner Bowlsby I'm back on the road - this time to Fort Worth to attend the dedication of the new Amon G. Carter Stadium at TCU.
12:45 p.m. - In the blazing sun and 100 degree heat I arrive on TCU's campus in time for the dedication of the new Amon G. Carter Stadium. TCU's AD Chris Del Conte is quick to welcome me and proudly show me into the stadium. The Horned Frogs have done a tremendous job of creating a great venue that fits the Big 12. Of course, it's always great to talk with K-State grad and outstanding TCU coach Gary Patterson. The dedication ceremony begins at 1 p.m., and the pride of the TCU fans, administration and donors is evident. All around campus and in Fort Worth are banners and billboards celebrating TCU's inaugural season in the Big 12.
The nine-figure private investments made into the new TCU stadium and its other facilities are but another reminder of how every Big 12 member is advancing forward - I can't wait to dedicate our West Stadium Center next fall!
2:00 p.m. - Big 12 Associate Commissioner for Football Ed Stewart and I grab a quick sandwich near the stadium. He's deeply involved in the prep work for the new "Champions Bowl" matchup with the SEC.
2:45 p.m. - Back in the car headed to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, home of the AT&T Cotton Bowl offices. Nancy Mills meets me and brings me up to the office where the first thing in view is a framed letter on permanent display in their lobby from the 2011 K-State football captains thanking the AT&T Cotton Bowl for our invitation to the 2012 game!
It's always great to catch up with executive director Rick Baker. He is a consummate proponent of college football and a true friend of the Big 12 and K-State.
5:30 p.m. - I arrive back at the DFW airport to meet with Learfield Sports executive VP Andy Rawlings. Learfield Sports is our multi-media rights holder and partner. It does a great job managing our corporate partnerships, our signage and videoboard, as well as the radio network and third-tier TV. In those rapidly evolving areas there is always much to catch up on and strategize about.
7:45 p.m. - Time to head to gate B5 for my departure back to MHK - Steel & Pipe CEO Dennis Mullin, Coach Rovelto and many other K-Staters, as well as a few dedicated uniformed Ft. Riley soldiers, are in the waiting area for the flight.
Of course, the real work is happening back in Manhattan by our 444 student-athletes and 136 coaches and staff members. Before I board COO Reid Sigmon updates me by phone on the afternoon's West Stadium construction meeting. We land on time and I'm back at home with the family by 10:15 p.m.
The only downer was our approach is directly from the south - no fly-over above the cranes at Bill Snyder Family Stadium ... this time!
Another Sold-Out Family Reunion!
Speaking of BSFS, special thanks go out to all the 50,000-plus fans who filled the stadium last week for the fourth annual K-State Family Reunion. I appreciate our fans' patience navigating through the entrances and concourse to the appropriate seating location amidst the west side construction.
As we head into this weekend's marquee matchup with Miami, we again ask fans to utilize the appropriate entrances for the most efficient route to their seating location. And with an 11 a.m. kickoff for our nationally-televised game on FX, we encourage fans to allow for extra time to get to the stadium as the roads in and around Manhattan will be congested - most notably between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. The Kansas Department of Transportation issued some additional road closures and detours this week so click here for the most updated information on current road construction updates.
With another Wildcat Weekend on tap with home football and volleyball action, here are some additional updates around the department:
Football Stadium Reminders
As mentioned earlier, we encourage fans to arrive to the stadium early and those sitting on the west side to use the appropriate gates to get to your seating section. Here is a rundown of the various gates to enter based on seating location:
- Sections 1, 2 and 3: Gate B
- Sections 4 and 5: Gate C
- Sections 5 and 6: Gate D
- Sections 6: Gate F
- Sections 7, 8, 9, 10: Gate H
Fans may also utilize the restrooms and concessions that will be open in Bramlage Coliseum beginning when parking lots open through the second half of each home game. Thanks again for support of our football program and for your patience. When opened next August, the West Stadium Center will be a special facility that will benefit EVERY fan!
Tickets Almost Gone - Thank you!
Coach Snyder and our student-athletes join me in saluting our fans who are pushing K-State towards one of the highest attendance years in our history. With four games already sold out and just a handful of tickets left for Miami, Texas Tech and Texas we are tracking to have the best seven-game attendance year in our history! Have your friends click here or call 1-800-221-CATS to be part of history. The impression our packed stadium and our legendary loud and passionate student section makes to visiting fans, media, recruits and national TV viewers about the K-State Family is a huge factor in moving the Cats towards our vision of having a Model Intercollegiate Athletics Program - including - winning!
K-StateHD.TV Continues to Grow
Last week's live digital K-StateHD.TV broadcast was by far the most watched game on CBS Online network family. In fact, so many K-State fans around the country logged on that some folks experienced frustrating delays in being able to access the live video feed! Cbssports.com has apologized for the problem that some subscribers experienced which was caused by a network-wide software issue that affected all institutions web-casting a game that day. Again, we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused, but we continue to be excited about the many positive comments from our fans.
FOX Deportes to join FX in Broadcasting Saturday's Game
Earlier this week we announced that in addition to the national FX telecast, FOX Deportes will also broadcast Saturday's game with Miami as one of 15 live regular season college football games during this season. The opportunity and exposure this international broadcast will provide Kansas State University is significant and one that models President Schulz's K-State 2025 vision, which includes internationalization and diversity as a key component. We appreciate our partnership with FOX Sports and its selection of our game with Miami to showcase across the country. FOX Deportes can be found on Cox Channel 303 in the state of Kansas, or contact your local cable provider for additional channel information.
Volleyball Continues Hot Start
Following sweeps of Missouri State on Wednesday night and St. Mary's last night, Coach Fritz and our No. 21 volleyball team continue to play at a high level. With an 8-0 record, the squad wraps up play this weekend with a 6 p.m. match against Utah State. Fans that show their football ticket from the Miami game can receive admission for only $3. For those who can't make it to the match, watch every serve here on K-StateHD.TV. Let's keep packing Ahearn full of purple!
Roman Named Big 12 Runner of the Week
Congratulations to cross country runner Fernando Roman for being named Big 12 Runner of the Week for his efforts at last week's JK Gold Classic in Augusta. Fernando won the men's race in his debut as a Wildcat and became the first men's team member to be honored by the league for its weekly honor since 2009. Good luck to Coach Smith and both the men's and women's next week as they head to Lincoln, Neb., for their next race.
Hy-Vee Classic Hoops Tickets on Sale
Basketball may be a few months away but both Coach Weber and Coach Patterson's squads continue to work hard in preparation for the upcoming season. Earlier today, tickets for our men's game in Kansas City with Elite Eight participant Florida went on sale. The Hy-Vee Wildcat Classic will be on December 22 in the fabulous Sprint Center and tickets can be purchased for as little as $10 through the K-State Athletic Ticket Office at (800) 221.CATS and at www.kstatesports.com. Fans can also order through all Ticketmaster outlets, by calling (800) 745.3000 or online at www.Ticketmaster.com. Our recent basketball games in both Kansas City and Wichita have reached sellout status and we are excited to once again bring K-State basketball to our terrific fans in Kansas City.
Finally, on a personal note, those of you who have been reading these letters regularly may remember that last year a planned overnight trip to KC to celebrate my wife's birthday fell victim to conference realignment chaos. What a difference a year makes - we'll be celebrating Mary Lawrence's birthday tomorrow - along with a tremendous future for the Big 12, a packed Bill Snyder Family Stadium and Ahearn Field House - and hopefully a couple more nationally-televised Wildcat victories too!