One obvious answer to the question posed as the title of this post would be "Bob Krause." He does carry the title "athletic director," after all. A more complete, and arguably more astute, answer would be Krause and Jim Epps, who carries the title "deputy athletic director."
However, according to this article in today's Kansas City Star, both answers would be wrong. In Krause's own words:
“The context of this situation didn’t provide the time span that I think it takes to turn around a program,” Krause said. “I don’t think our fan base has patience to be supportive at the level necessary.”
Now please don't misconstrue what I'm about to write. I hold a steadfast belief that anybody who has been somewhere as long as Krause and Jon Wefald, both of whom have spent 22 years at K-State, has a vested interest in doing what he can to improve that place.
However, the above-quoted comment demonstrates a total and baffling abdication of responsibility on Krause's part. He said that K-State fans don't have the patience to wait for a turnaround. The implication is that the fans' impatience is what led to Ron Prince's firing. Given that it is Krause's job, presumably, to make the decision regarding hiring or firing a coach, I am befuddled as to his motives for making the above comment.
Does he believe the Prince firing was a mistake and is trying to pass off the blame? If that is what he really believes, he and I have a different metric of progress. In these two posts, I believe I have thoroughly demonstrated the regression we have seen under Prince, as well as the dangers of taking a risk on giving him more time. Also, given that he is the athletic director, and thus the one who makes personnel decisions within the athletic department, he certainly had every opportunity to explain to the fans any and all reasons why he believed Prince should be retained. He never did so.
Of course, the comment above is really just the latest in a series of what I consider questionable decisions (extending Prince's contract, the Iowa State series at Arrowhead), comments or judgments on Krause's part. At last week's teleconference to announce Prince's firing, there was the following exchange:
[Anonymous Reporter]: "Why wasn't it [head coaching experience] important the last time?"
Bob Krause: "...You'd have to ask Tim, on the hire, on that."
By Tim, my strong presumption is that Krause means Tim Weiser, who was the athletic director at the time. Such a statement, if it is directed at Weiser, is clearly intended to throw Weiser under the bus for hiring an offensive coordinator from a middling ACC squad.
The problem with that statement is that it's been widely rumored that at least Jon Wefald, and maybe both Wefald and Krause, wanted Prince hired while Weiser wanted to go a different direction. This suspicion finds support in Krause's later comments in today's KC Star article.
“I’ve had 22 years of executive management experience with this campus,” Krause said. “And all the time being connected to athletics. Now, if the question is, ‘Am I qualified to hire a coach?’ — that’s why you have people who come around and you take a look. But I’ve been involved in virtually every search we’ve had for head coaches.”
So Krause says that he has been involved in virtually every coaching search while he's been at K-State, but he can't explain why, in the most recent football seach, head coaching experience didn't seem to be a factor? Again, this statement appears to evidence a very serious passing of the buck, this time to former athletic director Tim Weiser.
For quite a while now, I've been defending Krause and Wefald against attacks from reporters such as Jason Whitlock and Bob Lutz that the K-State administrators were in over their heads. Given the comments made by Krause in the last couple weeks, I'm starting to believe that my justifications were a waste of time and cyber ink. If it turns out that we do end up getting Gary Patterson as our next head coach, I will heartily congratulate Krause on a job well done in getting an eminently qualified coach to take over the sinking ship that is our program. But his double-talk and willingness to throw fans and a former athletic director under the bus is indefensible.