Since John Currie's introduction as director of athletics on May 18, 2009, K-State's intercollegiate program has experienced a tremendous turn-around and enjoyed an unprecedented combination of athletic, academic and administrative accomplishments and national attention, including a record-setting year in 2012-13.
With the vision of K-State president Kirk Schulz, the re-earned trust of Wildcat fans nation-wide and the efforts of K-State's outstanding coaching staff, Currie's rebuilt senior leadership team has turned an inherited deficit into national acclaim as the NCAA's most financially solvent program, initiated $125 million in comprehensive athletic facility improvement, including the new $75-plus million West Stadium Center at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Basketball Training Facility, Intercollegiate Rowing Center and K-State Tennis Stadium, and launched the nation's No. 1 digital network all while Wildcat student-athletes were turning out championship performances both on the field and in the classroom.
Athletically Currie's tenure reached a new high in the 2012-13 year as the Wildcat football, men's basketball and baseball teams captured conference championships in the same season, making K-State just the fourth BCS school to achieve this milestone since 1998. K-State also became the first Big 12 school to have league coach of the year winners in football, men's basketball and baseball in the same year as Bill Snyder, Bruce Weber and Brad Hill took top coach honors. A BCS bowl berth in football and second straight NCAA Tournament appearance in volleyball highlighted the fall season before both basketball teams advanced to the postseason with Weber leading the men's team to the most wins ever by a first-year head coach in school history and the program's first league title in 36 years. Five track and field athletes were crowned Big 12 champions in the spring before Hill's baseball squad went from being picked seventh out of nine teams in the Big 12 to winning the program's first conference championship in 80 years and hosting and winning its first-ever NCAA Regional.
From implementing a new communications plan the day he was introduced as K-State's 15th Athletics Director, to consistently emphasizing the importance of transparency and accountability as well as the student-athlete and fan experience, Currie has laid a solid foundation for K-State achieving its vision of a model intercollegiate athletics program.
K-State's fundraising efforts have been completely overhauled in Currie's tenure with a personal interaction and communication for Ahearn Fund donors of all levels. K-State supporters immediately responded by increasing gifts more than 50 percent versus the previous year, while fiscal year 2013's record $36.8 million total means that yearly cash giving has nearly tripled since Currie's arrival in 2009.
K-State donors have stepped up with 22 private gifts in excess of $1 million since fall 2009, enabling the department to complete the new $18 million Basketball Training Facility and build momentum towards the department's comprehensive facility improvement benefitting all 450 Wildcat student-athletes. On April 28, 2012, ground was broken for Phase II of the Bill Snyder Family Stadium master plan thanks to a national effort that has included a $5 million gift, the largest in the history of the department. An essential step in advancing K-State's competitive future, the new $75 million West Stadium Center features the traditional limestone of K-State's beautiful and historic campus and new amenities for all Wildcat fans including improved ADA access, 200% more general restroom and concession facilities as well as new revenue generating premium seat capacity. A key element of the facility will be a long desired training table to serve the nutritional needs of all K-State teams.
Providing K-State student-athletes a world-class experience is a priority as Currie's staff initiated new events such as the Powercat Choice Awards to showcase K-State's student-athletes and a special graduation reception and ring ceremony to honor their accomplishments on the field and in the classroom. K-State has claimed the Big 12's No. 1 graduation rate among all student-athletes in four of the last six years, while all Wildcat programs are also well above the recently increased NCAA .930 APR standard with football and men's basketball sporting current year marks of .986 and 1.000, respectively. Most recently, a total of 260 Wildcat student-athletes earned Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll accolades in Fall 2013, while senior women's basketball player Brittany Chambers, junior outfielder Jared King and Petra Niedermayerova from women's tennis all earned the Big 12 Scholar Athlete of the Year award in their respective sports last season.
Fiscal integrity is another key pillar of the K-State Pledge. Despite inheriting a $2 million projected budget deficit on arrival in 2009, Currie's staff instead achieved a first-year surplus of $5 million, thanks to new measures promoting efficiency and cost containment, coupled with terrific fundraising success. USA Today has recognized K-State in each of the last three years as one of just 20-plus athletic departments in the nation to operate in a surplus, and in 2009-10 it was one of only five to do so while decreasing expenses from the previous year. And, in May of 2012, ESPN recognized K-State's FY 2011 final budget margin as the nation's leader, ahead of traditional stalwarts Texas, Florida and Michigan.
Currie's award-winning Fan Experience staff has created new ticket initiatives that have led to the two largest home-opening football crowds in school history, a current streak of 13 sellouts at Bill Snyder Family Stadium and a total of 22 sellout crowds during his tenure. The Cats have also set new season total and average attendance records in baseball, sold a record number of season tickets for volleyball and became one of just 13 schools nationally to draw more than 12,000 in paid attendance for every regular season home men's basketball game over the last three seasons while also ranking in the top 25 in women's basketball attendance in multiple seasons.
In support of President Kirk Schulz's visionary K-State 2025 plan to move the University into the ranks of the top 50 public research institutions, K-State Athletics has recently completed an initiative begun in 2010 to eliminate a then-$1.6 million direct University subsidy of intercollegiate athletics. In fact, thanks to 'Cat donors and fans, K-State Athletics ended this subsidy a year ahead of schedule, effective June 30, 2013, allowing those dollars to be re-directed for critical campus academic needs.
In August 2011, K-State capitalized on the Big 12's unique retained rights opportunities when it launched an exclusive, high-definition digital television network known as K-StateHD.TV. The network provides a world-wide connection for K-State fans and alumni and has established the university as an international leader in programming, accessibility and exposure. In fact, K-State immediately took over the No. 1 spot in total subscriptions across the CBS College Sports network, K-State's online network provider, and remains No. 1 almost two years later.
Currie received a signal national honor as one of just four FBS Athletics Directors to be named a 2013 Under Armour AD of the Year, while he also was named the 2013 Bobby Dodd AD of the Year. He was one of only two ADs named to SportsBusiness Journal's 2011 prestigious Forty Under 40 list of national sports leaders and has served as a faculty member of the Division I-A Athletic Director's Institute. Currently a member of the NCAA Division I Administrative Cabinet and the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors, Currie also serves on various Big 12 committees. A 1993 graduate of Wake Forest, Currie earned his master's in sports management from Tennessee.