Last week, TB sent me a link to an article about former KU Athletic Director, Bob Fredrick. In this article, Bill Mayer of the Lawrence Journal World talks about the class, dignity, and integrity that Fredrick displayed, and how his warm, gentle nature ultimately cost him his job as KU sought a much more aggressive personality to head their department. Ultimately, this move paid off considering that KU had the third highest revenue stream in the Big 12 during the 2007-2008 academic year, and that same year they won the Orange Bowl and the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. But at what cost? Mayer claims that the University of Kansas has taken a hit to their reputation, and that the qualities that Bob Fredrick embodied were cast aside for victories and the almighty dollar.
This is not meant to be an anti-KU post, nor is it meant to be about Bob Fredrick. However, what interested me about the story was that regardless of how many games you win, or how financially successful your department becomes, there will always be a segment of your fan base that desires more. If you are doing things in an ethical and "classy" way, but you aren't winning championships, there will most likely be a segment of your fan base that would like to see you move towards that proverbial "gray area" in an attempt to hang banners. On the other hand, as Mayer's article suggests, at what point do the victories lose meaning because of ethical gray areas and misconduct? KU was on NCAA probation for "Lack of Institutional Control" when they reached their apex of success in 2008, and the athletic director that replaced Fredrick, Al Bohl, supposedly (and famously) stated what could possibly become the mission statement for many BCS universities in today's cutthroat environment:
"Compliance doesn't sell tickets."
That said, after the complete and total mess that Jon Wefald and Bob Krause left the Kansas State athletic department in with their unethical behavior, new KSU AD John Currie finds himself in a precarious position. Given that many Kansas State fans feel scorned to the point that they want to withold their donations, and regardless of the fact that the offending parties have moved on or been placed on indefinate suspension, and knowing that our divisional rivals seem to be firing on all cylinders right now, Currie has the unenviable task of cleaning up the mess while keeping up with the Joneses.
Mr. Currie, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to rebuild the image of the Kansas State athletic department, regain the faith of the fans, and breathe new life into the seemingly lifeless Wildcat Victory campaign.
This message will self-destruct after the jump.
John, as I said, this is not going to be an easy task. Obviously, you're already aware of this after attending several different Catbacker functions. Kansas State fans are a tough bunch, and we expect a lot of you. Not only do we demand that you do things ethically, but we demand that you win. A lot. Especially against KU.
Not only do we demand winning, in a classy way, but you must also do it with a smaller budget. According to the article linked from Rock Chalk Talk, Kansas State is in the bottom third of the conference in terms of revenue. Our main in-state rival has nearly double the revenue that we do, and the conference's leader, Texas has nearly three times the budget. If you're going to dig out of the "Who knows how many millions at this point?" hole that Krausfald left you, you're going to have to do it with a limited budget.
Speaking of that limited budget, two of our high profile coaches, Frank Martin and Brad Hill, are probably going to be due new paydays in the near future. It's only a matter of time before Frank's program turns the proverbial corner due to recruiting prowess of his staff, and let's face it, after beating KU at home in 2008, the man has already started to develop a cult following. That following has several dedicated members on this site, so if finding a way to keep Frank Martin in Manhattan isn't near the top of your list of priorities, you will not be a friend of this particular blog.
Obviously, Brad Hill did a fantastic job this year, and while we haven't heard about any schools looking to hire him away just yet, again, it's just a matter of time before his improving program begins to catch the attention of schools with bigger budgets and better facilities. Of course, that depends on how much money you are willing to give to a coach of a non-revenue sport in times like these.
But, remember, when generating new revenue streams and finding ways to pay these coaches, be warned that we don't take well to secret agreements and weird methods of deferred compensation. We don't really care whether or not you pay them via some funny LLC, but we do care that you have that compensation clearly documented. Somewhere. Preferably not in some Excel spreadsheet on a flash drive you have attached to your keychain.
So, we want you to win, ethically, at a high level, with a limited budget, in a transparent and reportable fashion, while making sure that our coaches are well compensated (even in the non-revenue sports). Even though KU, with their impressive revenues, apparently couldn't have it all, we expect you to do it. I know that it isn't fair, but hey, you apparently knew what you were getting into when you took this job, so all excuses are thrown out the window.
Oh, and speaking of KU, have you heard about their proposed facility upgrades? If you haven't, I just linked the video. That's right, a video. See, unlike the previous administration here at Kansas State, the folks at KU decided to use their video editing equipment to create a vision of their athletic future. In the past, at Kansas State, our video editing equipment was used for Kiss Cams and very, very awful videos about Power Towels. If you ever get around to starting up the Wildcat Victory campaign again, we'd like to see something like this. I'd even take a slide show created with PowerPoint. It would obviously be an upgrade from anything we've seen in the past. Also, if you could mix in some Coldplay and U2 in said slide show, that would be great. It would make us seem 'hip'.
So, after you get done winning, ethically, at a high level, with a limited budget, in a transparent fashion, and you've locked up our coaches to long-term lucrative contracts and started breaking ground on our new $70 million dollar athletic facility, we'll know, without a doubt, that you were the right guy for the job.
Of course, in the meantime, you could have a reduced price hot dog promotion, have more than enough product and short concession lines for everyone, and we'd love you forever. If you think that's an odd comment, just ask Tim Weiser, "What happened with the hot dogs?" It's a mistake he, and you, won't soon forget (should you attempt it).
Best of luck, John. Being the AD at Kansas State can be a thankless job, but we're all rooting for you. Godspeed, and don't forget the hot dogs.