I am writing this letter on the (slightly delayed) AA 11:30 a.m. non-stop jet flight from MHK to DFW that will enable me to head over to American Airlines Center for our 6 p.m. first-round Big 12 Women's Basketball Championship game against the Jayhawks. The weather is perfect in Manhattan for today's home baseball opener at Tointon Stadium at 3 p.m. Just before departing I had the opportunity to tour the just completed first phase of the brand new MHK passenger terminal with airport director Peter Van Kuren who tells me that flights will be operating out of the new facility just in time for spring break travel next week. It is a big step forward for our community and will be a great first impression for incoming passengers.
Of course another huge step forward for K-State is the new Vanier Football Complex in the north end of Bill Snyder Family Stadium and early this morning MGEJ's Jeremy Niederwerder gave me my first tour inside the construction fences. The upgrades for our fans and student-athletes are already evident, and I cannot adequately describe how impressed I was with the progress. If you haven't seen the VFC site recently, it has really changed! The NEZ seating area is beginning to take shape and steelwork continues on the frame of the complex. I will tweet a few pictures later today - remember our live webcams are in operation. Click here and see the progress as it continues to be on track for an August completion!
Fundamental to achieving our goal of a World-Class Student-Athlete Experience is a dedicated corps of coaches, and we were ecstatic to see veteran Wildcat mentor Cliff Rovelto named as the 2015 Big 12 Women's Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year after leading K-State to a program-best second place finish in last week's indoor conference championship event. Making this award even more special is the fact that it is chosen by a vote of the league's head coaches.
I also salute equestrian coach Casie Maxwell whose charges upset No. 2 TCU and No. 1 Baylor in back-to-back contests last weekend. We wish all of our teams in action today and over the next week best of luck as we head into another very busy time for K-State Athletics.
A big Thank You is due as well to our fans as we had two great crowds for senior night basketball wins and also kicked of this week with record football season ticket sales including 4,958 tickets purchased on Monday, eclipsing last year's first-day record of 4,330, while 1,623 tickets ordered were new requests. We are on our way to extending our consecutive sellout streak to 27 games! It's obvious the K-State Nation is already fired up for the 2015 season - just 2,500 tickets remain for the April 25 spring football game at Sporting Park. Click here for ticket information for both the spring game and the 2015 season.
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Needless to say it has been an interesting week in Manhattan, and I am glad we are back in competition today as both of our track and field teams are competing in the Big 12 Indoor Championships in Ames! Later in this letter I'll cover the whole weekend athletics schedule, but I'd like to make a special request for K-State fans in the DFW area to get over to Fort Worth tomorrow for our 2 p.m. women's basketball game vs. TCU. Coach Mittie and the Cats are battling for a postseason berth having already improved our regular season win total vs. last year by five games to our current record of 16-11 and now have reached our highest conference win total since the 2011-12 season. Click here for more information and here for information on next week's Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Basketball Championship at Dallas' American Airlines Arena which follows our senior night game vs. West Virginia in Bramlage on March 3.
My daughter Virginia and I enjoyed our drive down I-70 Wednesday night to watch senior Ashia Woods key a late 12-0 run to help the Cats defeat the Jayhawks in Lawrence for the fourth time in five years. It has been a great week for the Wildcats with a Sunflower Showdown sweep following Monday's win for the men's team. Our record against KU in volleyball, football, and men's and women's basketball for the year now stands at 5-2, and we look forward to this spring's contests in tennis and baseball. Our rowing team also had a successful and victorious showing this fall against the Jayhawks in a competition that also featured numerous other schools.
Coach Weber's squad will look to ride the momentum tomorrow as we host No. 12 Iowa State (click here for tickets) for Senior Day at 3 p.m. We are expecting a packed house but encourage our fans to pay close attention to the weather and make safe travel decisions. Fans are also invited to attend our home equestrian match 10 a.m. vs. No. 1 Baylor.
While we have covered Monday's postgame situation already this week (click here), I do want to encourage our students and fans to continue to remember our motto of "Welcome to K-State" and our goal of offering the "Best Fan Experience in the Big 12." Again Saturday, we will showcase our great university before a national TV audience on ESPN2. Collectively, we must set a higher standard of expectation and eliminate the profane chant that recurred last game. Let's get this done together.