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A new era in Wildcat sports

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Kansas State will introduce Gene Taylor as its new athletic director on Monday

NCAA Football: North Dakota State at Iowa
Iowa and NDSU’s loss is our gain.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The big news this weekend is that Kansas State has a new athletic director. Gene Taylor, formerly of Iowa, will be introduced as the university’s athletic director at a press conference on Monday.

Jon Morse broke the news here yesterday, detailing Taylor’s past accomplishments including his tenure as North Dakota State’s athletic director, when he oversaw the school’s transition to D-I and helped build strong programs in basketball, softball, volleyball, and of course, football where the Bison have had unprecedented—and much publicizied—success.

Jon also discussed the hire with Bison Illustrated’s Joe Kerlin. You can read his thoughts in the K-State Q&A. As the piece notes, there are few schools in the country as similar as NDSU and Kansas State, and that makes Taylor a natural fit.

That Taylor was instrumental in the Bisons’ rise to preeminence in football is well known. But Taylor was also instrumental in helping NDSU transition from D-II in basketball to the top division. Tim Miles, hired just before Taylor’s arrival in Fargo, has since moved on to greener pastures and is now the basketball head coach at Nebraska. But Miles has fond memories of working with Taylor, and has full “confidence Gene will do an excellent job for Kansas State.” (Kevin Haskin, Topeka Capital-Journal).

To get the job in Manhattan, Taylor beat out a diverse group of candidates that included several sitting athletic directors in Division I. In addition to Taylor’s work at NDSU, his accomplishments at Iowa also helped him stand out, according to Kellis Robinett in the Wichita Eagle. As Iowa AD Gary Barta noted:

Gene Taylor is one of the most respected athletic administrators in the country. I’m so excited for him and for Kansas State. He has such a great combination of passion, experience, and the ability to lead by bringing people together toward a common goal. He’s made a big difference during his time with the Hawkeyes.

Taylor will have his work cut out for him. Bill Snyder’s retirement is on the horizon even if not in the most immediate sense, and Snyder’s awkward relationship with John Currie is not exactly a well-kept secret. And then there’s Kansas State basketball and the fan base’s tenuous relationship with Bruce Weber. It remains to be seen how Taylor will handle these situations in Manhattan, but Taylor seems to have the right combination of skill and personality, so we can move forward with cautious optimism at the very least.

Baseball

Kansas State’s momentum from the big win on Thursday could not be sustained as the team took a 7-4 loss to No. 6 Texas Tech at Tointon yesterday. This time, it was the pitching that let the BatCats down.

Starter Parker Rigler struck out seven batters in a season-high effort to equal his own previous Big 12 record. But he also gave up nine hits, two walks and six earned runs. Overall, Texas Tech had 13 hits in the game, 12 of which came from its first five batters.

The bright spot for the BatCats was Jake Scudder who had his first two-homer game yesterday. He also drove in three runs and had eight hits on the day, a new career mark for him and the highest number of hits by a Wildcat in a single game since Wade Hinkle had 10 back in 2012.

The series with Texas Tech concludes today. First pitch is scheduled for 2 PM.

Golf

The men’s golf team is in Iowa City this weekend for the Hawkeye Invitational. The tournament began with a shotgun start this morning. Kansas State is currently tied for third place at -4 through nine holes, trailing joint leaders Texas Tech and Kansas at -6. Levi Valadez is low Wildcat so far at -2.

Tennis

The hardcourt version of the Sunflower Showdown will happen today in Lawrence at the Jayhawk Tennis Center as the Wildcats take on No. 30 Kansas. Play begins at 1 PM.

This is the third of five road contests for Kansas State while the Jayhawks are playing in their final homestand of the season.

Track and Field

Kansas State hammer throwers set new school records at the Texas Invitational in Austin. Indeed, all three men’s throwers shattered the school record, with junior Mitch Dixon’s mark of 65.42m setting the new standard. That was good enough for second place in the event.

For her part, Janeé Kassanavoid who took first place in the women’s hammer throw also set a new school record with a throw of 66.97m. That is the fourth-best throw in Division I this season. She also beat her closest opponent, Auburn’s Jasmine Manigault, by almost 13 feet.

Other Wildcat winners included Zack Supple (men’s pole vault), Shardia Lawrence (women’s triple jump), and Kayla Doll (women’s 3000m steeplechase).

Competition continues today with the men’s discus throw event.