K-State Hall of Fame Press Conference
K-State Hall of Fame Press Conference
University President Dr. Jon Wefald
“It is such a monumental honor to have this opportunity to be inducted into the Kansas State University Athletic Hall of Fame. It is a long story, but it takes a team to get things done. One or two people cannot do it and I know Coach Snyder agrees with me that whether it is turning around the football team, athletic department, the whole university, you have to have a multitude of hard-working, optimistic focused people. Fortunately for me, coming to Kansas State in 1986, I was able to surround myself with people who are a lot smarter than I am that had that same sense of we can do this.’
“There were huge challenges that faced me coming Kansas State in 1986 turning around football was one of those but I just want you to know that with alumnus and faculty, that was eighth or ninth on the list because there were so many challenges. Enrollment, declining moral, the lack of the art museum and the library were in very bad shape. We were basically a teaching institution in the mid 1980’s, unlike today where we are a powerhouse research university. As a land-grant university, you have to be a research university. There were so many things that we had to accomplish. My primary attention of 1986 was hiring some great people in Anderson Hall. Many of them are still here today. Bob Krause, who is our athletic director, I can’t tell you how important he was in the turnaround of Kansas State University academically, administratively and athletically. Just great people from Jim Kauffman, now Duane Nellis, Pat Bosco, who just became the legendary authority of enrollment as we went from 15,000 students to 23,000. We are announcing today a record enrollment of 23,500 students for the whole history of Kansas State.
“Here is the thing, when I came to Kansas State in 1986, the former administration had predicted we would fall to 11,000 or 12,000 students and there was not anything you could do about it. By the way, there was nothing you could do about a losing football team either. Let’s not forget, in 1985 Wichita State beat us in football. Maybe you forgot that. Then, in 1986 they dropped football. So, we knew how important it was to turn football around. But again, that wasn’t one of my top five or six priorities because there were just so many more things that I had to pay attention to. But, one of the most compelling stories for Kansas State history is hiring Bill Snyder in late 1988 and giving him some of the tools to build a respectable football team. That is such an amazing story. I think critics in the sports world are still saying in 2008 that if it is not the greatest turnaround in college football history, it’s certainly one of the two or three most monumental turnarounds in the history of Division I football. So whether it is turning around the whole university, which I think we have done since 1986 academically, administratively and athletically, turning football around is something I will never forget.
“I know Bill will say this one person can’t do this alone. You have to have a team of individuals. For example, if we aren’t fortunate enough to hire Steve Miller as our athletic director in 1988, I am not so sure we would have had the luck of finding Bill Snyder, who was the offensive coordinator at Iowa. Also, Steve Miller was a visionary. We needed somebody like that, who could rise above circumstances, always seeing the glass as half full and a risk taker. As you know, we had to take some major risks to turn around football because I remember coming here in ’86 and looking at our athletic facilities, especially in football, and I am sure there were a number of Texas high schools that had much better facilities than we did being in the Big 8. It isn’t just hiring a great football coach. In turn, he has to have the ability to hire outstanding assistant football coaches because one person can’t do it alone. We had to do everything at once. We had to actually get our alumnus out there to invest in a dream because it isn’t like we had $12 million to have an indoor facility, a new press box and we were 8-3 the year before. No, we were the losingest football team in the history of the world. In order to get this done, all kinds of things had to come together in order to give Coach Snyder the opportunity. It is all about hope. If there is one university in America that symbolizes hope, it is Kansas State.”
Former Head Football Coach Bill Snyder
“John said it all. There are so many people that helped build Kansas State. He mentioned Jim Epps, the guy that encouraged Steve to get in touch with us. The rest is history. It has been a wonderful thing and there have been absolutely amazing people. I have always said from the very beginning and 20 years later, that I came to Kansas State University for the people, not the football, and I have stayed to keep a home in Manhattan and we have stayed because the people have been very special to us. The Kansas State people are immensely wonderful people. That is why we are here and why all five of our children have gone through Kansas State University and I am banking on the fact that all eight of our grandchildren will if I can afford it.”