SE: Former Big 12 Commissioner Reflects on Days at K-State
During his time as a student at K-State (1974-78), Kevin Weiberg loved sports. It didn’t matter whether he was cheering on the basketball team in a packed Ahearn Field House or sitting by himself in KSU Stadium, he enjoyed watching games.
“I was just a person who loved going to K-State sporting events,” said Weiberg, the longest tenured commissioner of the Big 12 Conference, during a recent visit back to K-State. “Basketball was great, it was really exciting. It wasn’t always easy to get a ticket as a student, but I loved following it. We were not very good in football, but I was always there. Even in the cold weather in November, I’d be one of those few people in the fourth quarter still remaining in the stands.
“I just loved to watch sports. I loved being around it, being a part of it.”
That passion for sports eventually turned into a 35-year career in athletics that was filled to the brim with exciting sports moments.
Weiberg graduated from K-State in 1978 with a degree in education. While a student at K-State, he was always involved with K-State Athletics somehow. He was the sports editor for the Royal Purple and spent time helping out around the athletics department whenever he could.
“I did a few things around the athletics department, but that was largely because I was interested in coaching and teaching. So I thought I was, anyways,” explained Weiberg. “Then I met one of the assistant ADs at the time, and he encouraged me to think about doing sports administration. There weren’t very many national Masters degree programs in Sports Management – this was back in the 70s and now there’s a lot of them – so I went to Western Illinois University and got my Masters in Sport Administration. That’s what got me started in the business.”
Following his time at Western Illinois, Weiberg went on to work at Wichita State and the University of Maryland before taking the job of associate commissioner of the Big Ten Conference in 1989. During his decade with the Big Ten, Weiberg was promoted to deputy commissioner of the conference.
In 1998, Weiberg became the second commissioner of the Big 12 Conference and held the position through 2007. During his time with the Big 12, the conference saw significant growth and stability.
Though Weiberg, a native of Anthony, Kansas, has always loved K-State, he never picked favorites during his time working in the conference he grew up following.
“When you’re an alum of an institution that’s a member of your conference, it’s always a delicate thing, and it was probably more than once that a fan wrote me a letter or sent me an email claiming I was wearing my purple underwear,” Weiberg said with a laugh. “You get a lot of that, but it was fun to be apart of the conference. I had nine good years with the Big 12, and it was a lot of fun to work on it. It was great to see the growth of the conference over those years.”
Following his time with the Big 12, Weiberg returned to the Big Ten Conference as the Vice President of the newly established Big Ten Network before concluding his career as Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer of the Pac-12 Conference from 2010-2014.
“I had a unique experience in working in three of the major conferences,” said Weiberg. “I enjoyed every one of them. There’s similarities, but there are also differences in how they govern themselves. There are a lot of great universities, people and dynamic markets that I got to see. I was really blessed to have great professional opportunities.”
His career in sports has taken Weiberg all over the nation. He’s been on the campuses of numerous universities nationwide, but there’s just something about his alma mater that will forever hold a place in his heart.
“I think it’s really the passion of the people for the place, I’m seeing that more readily being back in the state now,” said Weiberg. “I think there’s a perception nationally that it’s a small state, a small population base, a rural place, and maybe people don’t understand the passion that alums and the fans have for the university and the program, and when you’re around it, you can really see it. There are a lot of places like it, but I think it comes through in an especially genuine way here.”
Weiberg retired in 2014, and he and his wife Susan, a 1979 K-State graduate, now live in Wichita. Though he’s enjoying retirement, Weiberg said he’s continued to keep busy doing private consulting work with universities and conferences around the country.
“Living in the state of Kansas again, it’s exciting to see the impact of the fan following,” said Weiberg. “It’s exciting to the number of K-State flags flying on homes, there’s a definite level of pride, and I think that’s stemmed from the success of the sports programs.”