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K-State Today

December 18, 2014

K-State 2025 Snapshots of Success: Athletics — Theme 7

Submitted by President Kirk Schulz and Provost and Senior Vice President April Mason

President Kirk Schulz and Provost and Senior Vice President April Mason

As the fall semester ends, we are concluding our series of K-State 2025 theme letters highlighting successes with Theme 7: Athletics.

At the start of the K-State 2025 planning process, we were questioned as to whether Athletics should be included as a key theme in a university strategic plan with a visionary goal to become a Top 50 public research university by 2025. As noted in the plan itself, the relationship of athletics and academics across the country is changing and how that relationship evolves will be a strategic question for universities. Then and today, we firmly believe that student academic success, championship athletic performances and a model intercollegiate athletics program is important to our athletic AND academic programs, as well our K-State community.

Our university Theme 7 Athletics goal is to “strengthen the interconnectivity between intercollegiate athletics and the campus community that prepares our student-athletes for success in school, in sport, and after graduation and benefits our university, community, and state.”

The Theme 7 strategic action plan envisions K-State as a recognized leader integrating academics and athletics with a national reputation for a world-class student-athlete experience. It calls for enhanced learning environments and relationships promoted by facilities and integrated activities that support interaction between students, student-athletes, and the campus community and increased funding for our total endowment. Most importantly, it envisions outstanding student-athletes prepared to excel in their chosen careers, community, and personal lives when they graduate.

As we look at successes over the past year, we have much to be proud of as our academic programs and K-State Athletics worked in partnership to provide an outstanding student-athlete experience at K-State. All of our teams exceeded the NCAA multi-year standard for Academic Progress Rating (APR). Women’s golf, men’s golf, women’s cross-country, and men’s cross-country recorded marks in the top 10 percent nationally. The football team’s four-year APR, in addition to the programs previously mentioned, was the best among Big 12 schools. The fall 2013 Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll included 260 student-athletes — more than 55 percent and the most for K-State since 2008 — while 103 student-athletes logged a perfect 4.0 in the fall or spring semester and 92 earned Academic All-Big 12 recognition throughout the year.

In addition to 38 student-athletes earning their degrees this week, the K-State football team will have a total of 22 graduates on its Valero Alamo Bowl roster later this month – a figure that ranks among the best nationally. K-State also placed a school-record and Big 12-leading 29 student-athletes on the Academic All-Big 12 football team.

The Powercat Mentoring Program connected 68 student-athletes with a faculty member to facilitate interaction and guidance for future success in sport, academics, and life. The Powercat P.A.L.S., or Positioning Athletes for Life-Long Success, program was introduced to provide an opportunity for minority student-athletes to enhance their transition to future careers.

Our student-athletes also are engaged in community service as part of their student experience. Two hundred fifty student-athletes participated in 2,489 hours of community volunteer outreach with projects such as the Kansas Special Olympics, Flint Hills Bread Basket, the T. Russell Reitz Animal Shelter, K-State Libraries, and guest appearances at local schools.

It is important to attract and retain the best coaches in the country to help guide our programs and student-athletes. The additions of veteran head coaches Jeff Mittie, women's basketball; Grant Robbins, men's golf; Danielle Steinberg, women's tennis; and Ryun Godfrey, cross country, bring instant credibility and national recognition to K-State. All four head coaches had earned conference coach of the year honors prior to their arrival at K-State.

More than $125 million in new facilities were completed last year including the West Stadium Center at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, the Intercollegiate Rowing Center, the Basketball Training Facility and the Mike Goss Tennis Stadium. In addition, ground was broken at halftime of this year’s Dillons Sunflower Showdown — might we add it was our sixth straight win over the Jayhawks — on the new Vanier Football Complex.

The Ahearn Fund, K-State’s national fund for student-athlete excellence, reached record membership for the fifth year in a row, exceeding 10,000 members for the first time in its history. Total Athletics giving increased 21 percent from the previous year, reaching $46 million in 2014 out of a $211 million university total. Direct state funding support from the university to K-State Athletics was eliminated two years ahead of schedule. More than $1.6 million in annual direct support has been eliminated since February 2010, working toward the goal to end all direct or indirect university support to K-State Athletics by the end of FY 2015. One of the NCAA’s most financially solvent programs, Athletics also worked hand in hand with our staff and the KSU Foundation to secure the largest individual donation in university history, a $60 million gift benefitting various initiatives, $40 million of which was directed toward academics.

Just as the aligned college, major unit and departmental plans complement the university visionary plan, the K-State Athletics plans, detailed in its Vision for a Model Intercollegiate Athletics Program and the K-State Pledge, also add value to the K-State 2025 plan. We invite you to read the K-State Athletics 2014 Annual Report to learn more about what’s going on in K-State Athletics and how it supports the broader goals and aspirations of our university.

An expectation included in our university visionary plan is that our coaches and Athletics staff will be involved in communicating and supporting the K-State 2025 vision and promote high academic standards and excellence. They have exceeded our expectation in many ways. It is not often you hear an athletic director, coaches or their staff talking about university strategic goals and aspirations, but it is a common occurrence here at K-State. We don’t think there is another program in the country in which the athletics program is so closely tied to its university strategic vision.

We are extremely proud of the work our athletics and academic programs are doing together to advance the university on our path to 2025!

Go Cats and thanks for all you do!
President Kirk Schulz
Provost and Senior Vice President April Mason