Letter from A.D. John Currie - February 13

Before getting to some department updates, I do want to take a moment to remember one of the true legends in college basketball - who helped spark my interest in college athletics from a very young age.It was a text from my mother early last Sunday that first informed me of the news of Emporia native and legendary North Carolina Coach Dean Smith's passing in North Carolina.  Coach Smith and his family were members of my home church, and he was a faithful attendee, albeit always slipping in a few minutes late and out a minute early as to not be a distraction.  But on Youth Sunday my senior year in high school I remember him coming through the post-service greeting line and warmly complimenting those of us who had help lead the service.Indeed, my earliest memories of college athletics are those of my dad coming home from work (late) so that we could race over to Carmichael Auditorium, somehow finding a parking space that really didn't exist (usually along the sidewalk wedged between a tree and another car), and then jogging to get in the building at tipoff (barely) to watch Coach Smith (with K-State grad and long-time assistant Bill Guthridge at his side) and those Carolina teams in the late 1970s.  We wish all the best to Coach Smith's family and thank him for the impact he had on college athletics.  And, Dad, thanks for taking me to all those games!Here are a few more updates from around the department:Women's Hoops on a Roll Heading Down the StretchCoach Mittie's women's basketball team is playing its best basketball of the season as it has won four of its last five games heading into Sunday's 1 p.m. home game with Texas Tech at Bramlage.  With six regular season games remaining, plus the Big 12 Championship in Dallas, the squad is in solid position to make the postseason in Coach Mittie's inaugural campaign.  After Sunday's game we only have two home games remaining against Oklahoma on February 21 and West Virginia for Senior Night on March 3.  Come out to Bramlage and support the Cats - they have done a terrific job adapting to a new coaching staff and strategies and have been exciting to watch! Click here for ticket information.Three Big Home Games Remain for Men's Squad Starting TomorrowDown in Section Six in Bramlage at the women's game Kenny Lannou was keeping us all posted as the Cats valiantly battled back to take a brief lead Wednesday at No. 20 West Virginia only to come up a few baskets short of what would have been a huge road upset.  Even though it's been a frustrating year in a brutally tough Big 12 men's basketball conference, I am proud of our coaching staff and players continuing to battle every game and am especially grateful for our fans who've continued to be incredibly loud and supportive in Bramlage these last few weeks.  We'll need our home-court advantage the final three games as we host No. 17 Oklahoma at 7 p.m. tomorrow, the Jayhawks on Big Monday, February 23, and close out the home schedule February 28 against No. 14 Iowa State.  Let's pack Bramlage with purple for these last three home games!Baseball Season Underway as Cats Open in FloridaCoach Hill and the baseball squad, which includes 22 newcomers, kick off the 2015 season today in Florida with a 2:45 p.m. game against Iowa before playing Pitt and George Mason on Saturday and wrapping up the tournament Sunday against Saint Louis.  Click here for a K-State Sports Extra season preview, and be sure and mark your calendar for February 27 as we host Eastern Illinois in a home-opening three-game series at Tointon Family Stadium.Tennis, Track Head into Big WeekendsCoach Danielle Steinberg and the tennis team picked up a home win over Missouri State last weekend and look to ride that momentum to more wins this weekend.  K-State will host a pair of matches on Saturday at Body First Tennis and Fitness Center as the squad faces UMKC at 11 a.m., and then Emporia State at 3 p.m.  Meanwhile, Coach Rovelto and the track team head to Fayetteville, Ark., for a big weekend as the meet features a stacked field of more than 30 schools, including 21 programs with at least a men's or women's team ranked in the top-25 and nine that have both squads nationally ranked.  Among those are the Wildcat women, who currently rank 10th nationally.  Also, congrats to both our men's and women's cross country teams on recently earning USTFCCCA Division I All-Academic team honors, while Wildcat runner Morgan Wedekind also picked up All-Academic individual honors on the women's side.  The women, who finished with a cumulative GPA of 3.42, earned the honor for the fourth time in the past five seasons, while the men's cumulative GPA of 3.10 snagged them the honor for the first time since 2010.Coach Dibbini Hard at Work/Welcomes Inaugural SigneesWe have been very pleased with the excitement of the Manhattan community as we lay the groundwork to launching our new women's soccer program.  Coach Dibbini has been hard at work on the recruiting trail while also researching candidates to round out his inaugural coaching staff.  In case you missed it, Coach Dibbini signed our first three student-athletes earlier this month and are excited they have chosen to become Wildcats and the foundation of our program.  Click here for our full releaseNew K-State Soccer merchandise is also now for sale, and stay tuned in the coming weeks for our results of the soccer crest "fan vote" as the K-State Nation will decide on the mark, which is a traditional element to soccer programs and organizations across the world.  Click here for more information on women's soccer.Congrats to K-Stater Kirby Hocutt on CFP AppointmentK-State will have a familiar face on the College Football Playoff selection committee as former Wildcat linebacker and current Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt was recently named the Big 12's representative, replacing former West Virginia AD Oliver Luck who left his post for a new role with the NCAA.  Kirby, a good friend and a terrific AD, will provide great perspective on the committee with his background as a football student-athlete as well as his role in intercollegiate administration.  Congrats to Kirby, and we know he will do a terrific job in this role!That will do it for today. Thank you for all that you do for K-State Athletics and all 450-plus of our student-athletes.Go Cats!John