“Right now, we are still presenting the plan to some of our top donors and going to through the projects to see if there’s an interest in one or the other projects. Once we get some of these top asks figured out, we’ll begin to move forward.”
Gene Taylor spent the better part of his first year intricately researching a Master Plan for the Kansas State Athletics. The $210 million of new construction and enhancements will benefit all 16 Wildcat athletic programs.
“When I first got here and I was talking to my staff and coaches, I got a sense that we had done a lot for football, but there was a lot of need in other areas. We brought in an architecture firm and they started the Master Plan, they sat down with every coach and every department head. I felt it was important for us to have a full picture of our needs,” explains Taylor.
He says they are still working to sure up donations and gifts, which will likely make up the bulk of the $210 million. Taylor says their plans for the South Endzone, in particular, has generated interest.
“There will be a remodel of the South Endzone with concourse, restrooms, concessions, premium seating opportunities. Both club, suites and loge seats. Just enough to really add in some revenue opportunities. We’re going to expand the Legends room that’s used for basketball and meetings, we are going to expand it out to the stadium so we have a better area for basketball, plus it would be the food and dining room area for the football games.”
This 10 to 15-year facilities vision also pays special attention to volleyball, the Olympic Training Center and an indoor football area. Taylor says the road is long, but K-State is committed.
“We will raise as much as we can through the donation and gift process, then we’ll get to a point to see how much we can finance and we’ll put that in place as well. We’ll come up with a financial model we can work with, it’s an ongoing process.”
Taylor spent more than a decade leading North Dakota State to championship levels of success as its Director of Athletics before serving as the Deputy Athletics Director at Iowa. He was then named the Director of Athletics at K-State in April 2017, and right away he knew he had a decision to make.
Head football coach, Bill Snyder, was contemplating retirement. In 2017, he decided to stay on with the program he built over the past 3 decades. However, after the 2018 season, he announced his retirement.
“I had contemplated what the options the year before, I already had a pretty good plan in place. I was kind of prepared mentally both ways because I knew this was going to be a decision, basically, when I took the job.”
Snyder left as the winningest coach in the history of K-State football with a 215-117-1 record. It would not be easy shoes to fill.
“The new coach was going to have to drive in on Bill Snyder Highway, going to walk past his statue on the way in the stadium, the stadium is named Bill Snyder Family Stadium. It’s takes a unique person who knows what they are getting into,” said Taylor.
Ultimately, he opted to hire Chris Kleiman, someone he knew well from his days at North Dakota State.
“Every AD has a list of the qualities we want in a head coach. You kind of have an idea, you get a sense of which coaches you think will be successful, their style, how they treat their players, I had a feeling of what I wanted in a coach.”
However, K-State wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Snyder altogether. Snyder will transition to a special ambassador role for the University and the University will honor his $3 million buyout. Much was made in the media of the decision to buyout a retiring coach’s contract, but Taylor says it was an important move.
“It was a pretty easy decision really. For what he’s done for our program, all the success he’s had, the impact he’s had on our community and how our program is recognized. He deserves whatever we could give him on the way out the door. It was well deserved.”
Now Taylor says his eye are on the future. K-State has a big job ahead and he’ll constantly be working towards improvements.
“We are working towards getting Chris settled and looking to executing the Master Plan, we also need to constantly evaluate where we are and what we can do better.”