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K-State Today

September 12, 2011

A letter from Athletics Director John Currie

By Kenny Lannou

Good morning K-State fans!

This letter is going to be a bit different from the normal, but first - congratulations to K-State volleyball for its win Thursday! And on the alumni front, how about Jordy Nelson and Darren Sproles both finding the endzone Thursday in the NFL season opener!

The last several days have certainly been interesting! I know that it is frustrating for our fans to hear so many conflicting rumors and speculation about the Big 12 and other conference alignment issues, especially considering the Big 12 was undefeated and had the most wins among automatic qualifier (AQ) conferences on opening weekend, and currently has six teams in the top 25. We continue to believe that K-State's interests are best served in our current contiguous geography and great rivalries. Certainly we are continuing to actively work together and with our colleagues to appropriately position K-State's rich athletics tradition and national brand.

As we have reiterated, President Schulz and I are actively engaged in these conversations and issues. We both clearly understand the attention these important developments demand of us and we want to assure Wildcat fans that K-State will always have a place at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics.

Regardless of the "big picture" issues that swirl around and above us, life and daily activity go on. I am really proud of our coaches and staff for staying focused on their responsibilities toward our vision of building a model intercollegiate athletics program and achieving our five goals, including offering a world-class student-athlete experience.

To help illustrate this, I want to share with you a few moments of my day Wednesday, along with a few observations:

Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011

6:30 a.m.: Stopped on the way to the office for a cup of coffee.

6:40 a.m.: Pulled into the parking lot at Bramlage and walked into our awesome 120-yard indoor facility to see what was going on. On one end was our baseball team. At the other end were about 40 K-State equestrian student-athletes. Both groups were working hard under the supervision of our outstanding strength and conditioning staffs. As always during such workouts, members of our sports medicine staff were on hand to ensure a safe environment -- they are always prepared, with ice, Gatorade, even a portable AED at their ready.

7:30 a.m.: After a few phone calls it was time for our monthly head coaches meeting, which we hold in the Legends Room. I did my best to brief our coaches on the conference situation and answer their questions, as well as get a good handle on their perceptions. We also completed our regular agenda -- NCAA compliance updates, academic discussions, etc.

8:45 a.m.: Back in the office, I met with a few staff members and then spent most of next three hours on the phone with a myriad of athletics colleagues and partners from around the country, including athletics directors, bowl and media representatives, etc., as well as President Schulz and others.

11:30 a.m.: In the midst of all the conflicting rumors and phone calls came a collateral casualty. I checked in with Mary Lawrence and we reluctantly agreed that we ought to postpone the overnight trip to Kansas City we had planned to celebrate her birthday.

12:30 p.m.: Tired of being stuck in the office on the phone I decided to walk around Bramlage (unfortunately still with my phone). I checked in on the ticket office -- did you know we are only about 1,500 tickets away from a sellout for the Kent State game? Also, Bill Snyder Family Stadium hosted one of only 14 opening weekend sellouts across the country! On the east side of the concourse, I looked out the windows as MW Contractors were pouring concrete in the Basketball Training Facility. On the north end, I talked to Wyatt Thompson for a few minutes -- a K-State administrator told me recently that he was listening to a different school's game in another part of the country on XM and was reminded about how good a job Wyatt and Stan Weber do on our broadcasts. I also chatted with Brian Smoller as he provided me with the latest updates regarding K-StateHD.TV. Did you know that following our football game vs. EKU, K-State moved to No. 1 in CBS College's national rankings for digital subscriptions, surpassing schools such as Alabama, Oklahoma and Notre Dame? Then I walked downstairs to the Sports Information office where the staff was working on basketball media guides and getting ready for our upcoming football and volleyball events.

1:30 p.m.: I decided to head over to Vanier and check in with Coach Snyder. He and Sean had just finished a staff meeting and were going over some practice notes. Joan Friederich was there as she has been the past 40 years, with the same smile, talking with one of our young football student-athletes who had stopped by after class. Downstairs, I stopped by the weight room and the training room. Matt Thomason and Mindy Hoffman were already busy taping ankles while a couple other players were doing rehab. Over in the equipment room I chatted briefly with Alex Hrebec as he was picking up his gear. Our new head and football equipment managers, Will Rodecap and Al Cerbe, respectively, and our NIKE representative Brad Sieveke were meeting with Coach Brad Hill and baseball operations director Justin Tadtman to plan our 2013 season uniform and equipment order (2013 is not a typo -- we are usually working 12-18 months out on uniform and equipment orders.)

Back upstairs in our Academic Learning Center, I found associate AD/SWA Jill Shields briefing a number of new graduate assistants on NCAA and academic integrity guidelines, while down the hall various student-athletes were working with different academic counselors on their studies.

After a quick phone conversation with Coach Martin, I ran into a bunch of basketball players heading to a workout with Scott Greenawalt. Back up in the office, Laird Veatch and Reid Sigmon briefed me on an upcoming stadium construction feasibility meeting and I looked at some potential press release drafts. Throughout the day and afternoon my phone rang and I made my fair share of calls too!

5:45 p.m.: I swung by Ray's Apple Market and bought some roses for Mary Lawrence -- I went for two dozen instead of my usual one in a feeble attempt to make up for canceling our trip to KC! Back in the car I had a message from a major newspaper -- which I forwarded to Kenny Lannou. I talked to a bowl president and listened to a message from President Schulz.

6:00 p.m.: I pulled into Anneberg Park for a big soccer game between the 11-and-under Little Apple and Flint Hills teams. It's a great game between Manhattan's two traveling soccer clubs -- while certainly competitive, the parents applauded the best plays of both teams in a well played 3-2 game. A beautiful sunset follows.

7:30 p.m.: Mary Lawrence and I do break away for dinner out. I did a pretty good job of not checking my phone.

9:30 p.m.: We pull into the garage. My cellphone rings with a call from another Big 12 AD checking in. Mary Lawrence goes into the house to pay the baby sitter while I talk on the phone for yet another 20 minutes.

That gives you a rough picture of Wednesday. As you continue to hear all the "noise" of college athletics, remember that at the core of this enterprise are 444 K-State student-athletes, who like hundreds of thousands of student-athletes nationwide, are studying, training and competing every day. I'm grateful for the support of our fans and donors, and dedication of our staff, coaches and administration for keeping our daily focus where it should be.

Regardless of the future of intercollegiate athletics, rest assured that the K-State family is not losing sight of the present and our commitment to offering a world-class student-athlete experience and the best fan experience in the Big 12.

Finally, many of our fans have asked how they can help. As I have said before, we have many strengths and advantages at K-State and the passionate support of Wildcat fans worldwide is envied by many. Now, as always, each and every K-State fan helps by wearing the purple proudly, supporting Wildcat student-athletes at events and reminding your friends and associates of facts about K-State, such as having the best student-athlete graduation rate in the Big 12. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, k-statesports.com, K-StateHD.TV.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your director of athletics and live with my family in Manhattan. I can't wait for the next K-State ballgame and will see you there.

Go Cats!