Yesterday, I wrote down and published my feelings in the aftermath of Dr. Jon Wefald's announced retirement. Today, Wichita Eagle columnist Bob Lutz weighed in with his thoughts. If you compare the two, you may notice that while I mentioned only the overwhelming good Wefald accomplished at K-State, Lutz couldn't help but use the opportunity to bring up any and every perceived flaw in the man. For some reason, he couldn't fill a whole column with all that Wefald accomplished at K-State. I wonder why. Credit where credit is due, though, his analogy of Bill Snyder as rock star with Wefald on guitar was much better than I managed yesterday.
First, Lutz speculates that former athletic director Tim Weiser left K-State because Wefald was, essentially, too much of a control freak. I don't think it's much of a secret that Weiser wanted to fire Jim Wooldridge one year before he did and that Wefald didn't let him. But I also don't think it's much of a secret that Weiser aspired to a job beyond being an athletic director one day (see? I can speculate, too!). He got it when he moved down to Dallas this winter (hint, Tim, buy a lot of credit cards and run up a lot of debt so you'll fit in!).
Next, he strongly implies the hiring of Bob Krause to replace Weiser was odd. Yeah, Krause has no experience in athletics. Looks like he took care of that by delegating responsibilities to Jim Epps, as Lutz notes. I'd damn sure rather have an AD who recognizes his limitations and gets somebody to take care of them rather than just screwing everything up himself. On top of that, Krause's predominant value as AD is his base of connections and fundraising ability. As noted last week, K-State is embarking on an ambitious fundraising and facilities-improvement plan. We need someone who will go out and stick a hand in the deep pockets of K-State alums (OK, that sounded gross) and get things rocking on this project. If we had brought in an outsider, that would be much more difficult. Also, need I remind you that Krause's wife's maiden name is "Vanier?" You do recognize that name, don't you?
Lutz also makes the same mistake everyone else has. Frank Martin did not sign an extension. When he was hired, he never signed a contract because his agent and the athletic department couldn't come to terms. The contract he signed recently was merely his first contract. There was nothing to extend. I guess that's as much the fault of Lutz's copyeditors as it is Lutz himself, but someone so well informed should know better.
Finally, I can't help but note this:
Wefald's legacy hasn't fully been formed. The Snyder chapter, though, is a doozy. And, just maybe, impossible to follow.
First the obvious. Lutz hopes to God Snyder and Wefald's act is impossible to follow, because he'd love to see K-State relegated to pre-1990 levels of football eptitude and 1990s levels of basketball eptitude.
Now, I beg to differ that Wefald's legacy hasn't been fully formed. I realize two of the coaches he had a large hand in hiring are as-yet unproven commodities. But take a look at some of the figures mentioned in the KC Star the other day.
K-State — which had suffered from declining enrollment, low faculty morale, limited research and graduate programs, and a losing football program — is now ranked among the top 10 land-grant universities.
I guess I can accept just being a top 10 land-grant university. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you may depart for the jury room.
Enrollment grew from 16,000 to 21,000 in Wefald’s first five years. Today, it is close to 23,000.
Only a 44 percent increase in enrollment. I'd say the jury's still out on that one.
Under Wefald’s leadership, K-State saw private giving increase from about $6 million annually to nearly $100 million. Wefald expects to see the university cross the $100 million threshold before he leaves the presidency.
Private giving only fifteen-tupled (however you say that). And K-State leads the Big 12 in percentage of alumni who donate. Still deliberating...
Competitive research dollars went from about $15 million in 1986 to more than $110 million in 2008, and overall research funding shot up to more than $220 million in 2008.
Research money increased by a factor of seven. Bailiff, check on those jurors. Make sure they're OK in there.
In 1999, for example, the university made food safety and security and animal health a top priority. Today, K-State is one of the Department of Homeland Security’s five finalists for a $451 million federal biodefense laboratory.
Top five in the country. This is a hard case, order those jurors some dinner.
During a period when state and federal funding waned significantly, he led the university through construction of more than 2.2 million square feet of new buildings. And by the time he leaves, he hopes to see completion of one more structure — the Center for Leadership Studies, scheduled to open by fall 2009.
Hey, with increased enrollment, you need more space for everyone. Let's adjourn for the night, let the jury come back and think it over tomorrow.
Wefald has served longer than any sitting president of a Big 12 university.
It's hard to establish a legacy in just 23 short years.
Jury's back, Bob. Judge, will you read the verdict?
"Dr. Jon Wefald, accused of inability to successfully imitate God by a sportswriter in Wichita, Kansas, is hereby found not guilty. Wefald is ordered released immediately, and we order Lutz never to write another word about K-State."
Hey, I can dream, can't I?