A Letter from A.D. John Currie - August 12, 2015

Good evening K-State Nation!

This is a historic moment as I am writing you for the first time from inside the brand new Vanier Family Football Complex!  Hopefully you have seen our video tours at www.kstatesports.com and some of the photos our student-athletes have sent out on social media, but candidly the pictures just don't do it justice!  The best part has been seeing the smiles on the faces of our student-athletes and staff as I walk around the complex.  They, like me, are incredibly grateful for the donors and fans who have made this happen in such a short period of time, once again accomplished with zero state tax or general university funds!

Our world-class building and design team, Mortenson/GE Johnson and Populous, delivered what they promised, on time and on budget, and we look forward to dedicating the VFC September 5th when we kick off the season vs. South Dakota.  Of course we are still seeing new graphics installed each day by KC's industry-leading Dimensional Innovations firm which, working with our department-wide committee led by Scott Garrett and Dave Smoller, has set a consistent branding palette across KSA facilities over the last several years.

In addition to the big move, the past few weeks have been full of back-to-practice and school activities as both football and volleyball have reported for training camp.  My daughter Virginia and I really enjoyed participating in Coach Fritz's annual volleyball team welcome dinner this past Sunday evening, and then last night Coach Snyder invited me to speak to the football squad in the new Rita and Lamar Hunt, Jr., Meeting Room on the fourth floor of Vanier.

As Mary Lawrence and I begin our seventh academic year in Manhattan, these opportunities to visit with our student-athletes remind us again how lucky we are to be affiliated with such a great university and the people of K-State.

Since we are just a few weeks away, let’s preview some of the upcoming action, including Fan Appreciation Day on this coming Saturday.

Wildcat Weekend Kicks Off Fall Semester
I know the K-State Nation is looking forward to the weekend of September 4-5 as we kick off the semester with an action-packed weekend of Wildcat athletics.  On Friday, our volleyball team will be hosting the Varney’s Invitational in Bramlage Coliseum and will open play at noon against Green Bay before hosting Cal at 7:30 p.m. later that night.  Tickets for those matches are $8 for adults and $5 for youth, and fans with a ticket to our football opener can receive a general admission ticket for just $3.  On Saturday, the volleyball team will host UNLV at 1:30 p.m., and admission to that match will be FREE for all fans.  Our seventh-annual K-State Family Reunion football game will kick off at 6:10 p.m. as the Cats host South Dakota.  It will be a special night for our K-StateHD.TV viewing audience as Coach Snyder will be recognized prior to kickoff for his election into the College Football Hall of Fame, four new members of the K-State Football Ring of Honor will be honored at halftime as we welcome back Michael Bishop, Jordy Nelson, Clarence Scott and Darren Sproles, and finally, we will officially cut the ribbon on the new Vanier Family Football Complex and North End Zone seating area with a brief ceremony when gates open at 4 p.m.  Stay tuned for more details on this event, and click here for information on ordering K-StateHD.TV.

Facilities Connectivity Project
When you arrive for Fan Appreciation Day this weekend you'll likely notice a few of the 300-plus new Wi-Fi and Distributed Antenna System (DAS) fixtures being installed around Bill Snyder Family Stadium as we work to address connectivity for cell phones and other personal electronic devices throughout the stadium and Bramlage Coliseum.  In keeping with our goal of offering The Best Fan Experience in the Big 12, a little over a year ago, K-State Athletics collaborated with the University’s Network & Telecommunications Services Office to begin a partnership with Boingo Wireless and Aruba Networks to launch a DAS and public Wi-Fi network.  As we near completion of the BSFS infrastructure our team and partners will configure and test the network functionality over the first couple of football games and then move south to Bramlage Coliseum for installation prior to the basketball season.  We will communicate further details on this exciting project as the network becomes fully functional, which will allow for easier use of basic cell phone services like phone calls, texting and social media, while allowing our team to begin exploring other fan experience enhancements and technology features within our new K-State Game Day application.

Ahearn Fund Sets New Record for Annual Fund Giving
In one of my previous letters earlier this summer, we reflected back on what was another outstanding year for K-State Athletics from both an athletic and academic performance perspective as well as financially.  Today, I am pleased to report that our Ahearn Fund annual giving reached $17.6 million for 2014-15 representing a new department record as was our Ahearn Fund membership which soared past 10,300 representing all 50 states!  Overall in FY15 K-Staters gave $34.5 million in total cash to athletics which of course includes the aforementioned annual fund as well as capital and endowment gifts. Thank you!

Varsity K Club Re-Launched
Earlier today we announced details regarding the re-launching of the Varsity K Club, which can be dated back to the early 1940s and will once again be offered to all former K-State student-athletes from any of the department’s 20-plus sponsored programs since athletics began in 1896. The goal of the club, which will officially launch during the inaugural Varsity K Club Weekend, November 20-22, is to foster a continued lifelong relationship with K-State Athletics, while utilizing the support network of former student-athletes to enhance the overall experience of all current student-athletes.  This exclusive organization will provide student-athletes the opportunity to reconnect with former teammates, be involved with the current athletics programs and strengthen a lifelong relationship with K-State Athletics.  Click here for qualifications, sign-up details and more information!

Streb Continues Monster Season on PGA Tour
Sunday I was able to grab a few hours in the easy chair tuning in to the Bridgestone Invitational as Robert Streb continued his breakout season on the PGA Tour with a fifth-place finish in Ohio, bringing his number of Top-10 finishes this year on tour to eight.  More impressively, Robert has moved up to No. 5 in this week’s FedEx Cup Standings with only the likes of Jordan Spieth (Texas), Bubba Watson, Jimmy Walker (Baylor) and Jason Day ranked higher – that’s three Big 12 golf alums in the top five! Congrats to Robert on a great season, and we wish him the best at this week’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits!

Sending Well Wishes to Evan Marshall
On a more solemn note, you may know that former Wildcat pitcher Evan Marshall, who spent 2014 and the early part of this year in the big leagues with the Arizona Diamondbacks, was struck in the head by a line drive while pitching for the organization’s Triple-A team last week.  I am pleased to report that Evan is recovering well, and I know that all K-Staters have been keeping the Marshalls in their thoughts and prayers.  Get well soon, Evan!

Two Staffers Honored by Peers
Two of our department staffers have been recently recognized nationally by various working groups as Senior Associate AD for Operations and Event Management Casey Scott has been elected to serve as the new chair of the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee and Senior Director of Fan Experience Joni Smoller has been named the 2015-16 Vice President of the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators.  We have a terrific staff here at K-State, and each have continued to set a national standard of excellence in their respective fields.

That will do it for today.  Stay cool, and I look forward to seeing the “Purple Wave” hit Manhattan here in a few weeks with a great Wildcat Weekend on September 4-5, or even before that at this Saturday’s Fan Appreciation Day which begins at 5 p.m.

Go Cats!