Tonight, following the NIT selection announcements and almost concurrent with the revelation of the initial CBI pairings, Kansas State issued a press release announcing that they would be declining any post-season opportunities.
“We fell short this season in reaching our goal of playing in the NCAA Tournament, and although we were disappointed to not be selected for the NIT, I am proud of our players for their hard work and perseverance throughout this season," Weber said. "After we take a short break for our student-athletes to recover physically we will begin preparations for 2016-17, including training for our international trip to Switzerland and Italy in August."
The remainder of the press release consisted of a handshake to the departing seniors, applause for returning players (with lots of statistics to make sure we understand the talent K-State has returning), and a litany of statements which are nothing more than excuses for the team's performance in 2015-16.
What is not included in the press release are answers to some burning questions. Who made the decision? Did the players decide against a potential trip to Las Vegas, or was the decision made for them? Was the decision financial? Did the athletic department decide that the $50,000 required to make the Vegas trip wasn't worth spending? Or did K-State get the impression that the Vegas 16 wasn't inclined to extend an invitation, and thus issued the statement to save face by making it appear it was their own decision?
Turning down the CBI makes sense. Not only is there a financial outlay in order to participate, but the school also absorbs the operating costs involved in hosting games -- in short, you're paying to pay to play. It seems apparent that nobody, not the school, the team, nor the fans, had any interest in the CBI.
But turning down the Vegas opportunity, especially in light of the repeatedly-stated rationale for the problems this season -- namely, inexperience -- is inexplicable unless K-State simply wasn't going to be invited to Vegas in the first place. (That in itself would be a problem we could scream about, but it's just another layer on the existing catastrophe.) But if Vegas was a possibility, and if the team just needs live reps against real competition to build for the future... well. Rejecting that over $50K seems a bit foolish.
And so ends a season which was simultaneously far better than anyone had ever hoped and yet still a crushing disappointment. Let's not ignore the positives: this team has a lot of talented players who will be experienced sophomores next winter, a great incoming recruit in Xavier Sneed, and within the locker room the culture is a complete 180 from the dumpster fire that was 2014-15.
But that doesn't make the bad stuff go away, and there was plenty of that as well. It also doesn't help when one looks at all the coaches in the NCAA and NIT fields who have Wildcat DNA. An NCAA bid in 2017 is mandatory at this point. This year, the NIT would have been acceptable. To fail to reach the NCAA tournament next year after everything we were told this season?
That's a firing offense.