In case you aren’t a card carrying member of K-StateHD.TV, there was an introductory press conference for Gene Taylor this morning. As the new athletic director of Kansas State University, Taylor is a fresh breath of clean prairie air. Well… unless it is a burning day in the prairie… whatever, you get the point here.
In 2014 Taylor was hired on at Iowa as deputy athletic director and before that was the man behind the powerful North Dakota State University athletic department. In case you forgot about the history between NDSU and K-State, the Bison beat us in football in 2013 and won five straight FCS football national championships beginning in 2011, when Taylor was reigning over the athletic department. Read more about the Gene Taylor hire from Jon Morse here or check out his Q&A with Joe Kerlin of Bison Illustrated here.
First things first, check out this beautiful purple jacket Gene rocked with the best of them.
Gene Taylor is officially a Wildcat! Way to rock that purple jacket, sir. #Kstate pic.twitter.com/dx5rm156OC— Bring On The Cats (@BringOnTheCats) April 17, 2017
The press conference opened up with some insight into Taylor’s familiarity with the campus and the athletic program. Taylor referenced to his initial visit to K-State early in his career for a basketball game (assuming it was November 2004) compared to his return to campus for the 2013 football game. Taylor referenced the changes in the campus, the growth of the facilities, etc. and overall reminded him of how much he would love to end up at Kansas State. One surprising detail was that prior to his hire this year, Taylor had submitted his resume before when John Currie was eventually hired.
The role of family is strong with Taylor, which is something that coincides well with Kansas State’s #FAMILY slogan. While thanking everyone that helped him reach the point in his career today, Taylor began to choke up a little while thanking his wife and children. Between his daughter graduating from NDSU and pursuing a career in college athletics to his son beginning his college career as quarterback, Taylor was incredibly proud and gracious for them.
While addressing the coaches in the room, one familiar face stuck out. Ryun Godfrey, head coach of cross country, spent fourteen years as head coach of women’s track and field as well as cross country at NDSU. Taylor joked that Godfrey wasn’t allowed to tell any stories about him. Every other coach in the room was relatively new to Taylor but that did not stop him from praising them for being present at the press conference.
On the subject of relationships with coaches and student athletes, Taylor had a fresh stance on working with the athletes and coaches instead of dictating their behavior from afar. His direct quote about how he maintains such strong relationships with student athletes says it all:
“I think it is just being approachable.”
Simple, to the point and a refreshing change from viewing athletes as something to contain and manage as a business. The other refreshing change that really solidified Taylor’s fresh takes on running an athletic department was his understanding of K-State’s rich athletic history. Recognizing the simplistic yet defined expectations of a school like K-State, Taylor addressed focusing on bringing back a tradition of winning culture instead versus the compliant culture of the last few years.
“I understand the expectations of being your leader. You're here to win Big 12 championships and advance to NCAA championships”
Taylor also made it clear that he has an open door policy with coaches within the program, promising to listen to their frustrations and help them work through the issues together. Even taking it a step further, Taylor expressed his desire for coaches to come forward and share their frustrations so their focus can be on being successful.
"Coaches can trust me. They know I'll have their back."
Of course it wouldn’t be a media event if someone didn’t ask the hypothetical and overplayed question of replacing Bill Snyder. While hypothetical questions are my biggest pet peeve, Taylor handled it with grace. (This is probably the reason he is the new AD and I am merely covering the press conference)
“Haven’t thought about it yet, I just look forward to working with him.”
Well said, Gene. Well said.
Welcome to the K-State #FAMILY to Gene and his lovely wife and children. We look forward to many years of success and growth under your leadership.
(Ed. Note: After the press conference, President Myers told Kellis Robinett something interesting that you won’t like.)
K-State president Richard Myers says a contract extension is in the works for Bruce Weber.— Kellis Robinett (@KellisRobinett) April 17, 2017