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K-State Today

April 18, 2014

Letter from A.D. John Currie: Catching up on athletics news, upcoming events

Submitted by John Currie

Good morning, K-State Fans.

It has been several weeks since I last wrote but that's certainly not because of the lack of activity around K-State Athletics! I'll catch up on several interesting recent tidbits, but first let me mention a couple of upcoming events for your planning purposes.

Last chance to see Petra Niedermayerova live in Mike Goss Tennis Stadium
Over the past four seasons, Petra Niedermayerova has built a record that perhaps could rank her as K-State's all-time greatest tennis player. Additionally, she has been a model student-athlete off the court, majoring in economics and being recognized as a two-time ITA Academic All-American and the 2013 Big 12 Scholar Athlete of the Year in women's tennis. She's been all-conference, All-America and holds K-State's career wins records in both singles and doubles.

Senior Day ceremonies start at 11 a.m. Saturday and will be followed by the match vs. the Jayhawks at noon. Three pro-set matches of doubles (with Petra and Amina St. Hill on court No. 1) will be followed by the six singles matches. Admission is free. Come out and salute Petra for an incredible K-State career and also bring the kids for USTA/ITA Campus Kids Day.

Baseball to host Baylor beginning Thursday night
Although this past week has been a little rough for the baseball team, the Wildcats are still very much in the hunt for their fifth NCAA tournament invitation in the past six years heading in this weekend's action. The team is in a grueling stretch of the season as it continues to adapt to key pitching injuries and gets back into conference action at home this weekend against Baylor. First pitch tonight and Friday is 6:30 p.m., and the series will wrap up at 7 p.m. Saturday with an ESPNU televised matchup at Tointon Family Stadium. Our crowds have been tremendous this season, ranking 17th nationally, so come on out and support the Bat Cats!

Equestrian ready for national championships
After a third place finish at the Big 12 Championship, Coach Maxwell and the fifth-ranked equestrian team head back to Waco, Texas, this weekend for the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) National Championship. The Cats will open competition today with a matchup against No. 12 Texas A&M, with the winner advancing to face No. 4 Auburn. Check k-statesports.com throughout the weekend for results and best of luck to the Cats! I also would like to wish good luck to our rowing and track and field squads which will also be competing this weekend - rowing is headed to Tennessee for the SIRA's, while track will be split among the Mt. SAC and Kansas Relays.

Coach Weber recognized with contract extension
Yesterday we made the exciting announcement that we have signed Coach Weber to a contract extension through the 2018-19 season, adding one year to his current deal. Our men's basketball program continues to make terrific progress under Coach Weber and his staff since their arrival. He and Megan, along with the entire staff, have really embraced being a part of the K-State family and Manhattan community, and I am excited about the future of our program under his leadership. Click here for the full release and stay tuned this summer for 2014-15 season ticket information.

Football priority deadline nears; 'Cats ready for annual spring game
Spring football practice is coming to a close as I know Coach Snyder and our team have been excited to get back on the field and capitalize on the momentum generated from our Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl win over Michigan while beginning preparations for the 2014 season. And I know our fans have also done their part as season ticket sales for the upcoming season continue to be tremendous leading up to next Friday's priority deadline. Be sure and make plans to be in Manhattan next Saturday for the annual Purple/White game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:10 p.m., and be sure and get to the stadium a few minutes early for the announcement of the 2014 team captains as well as a message from a few special guests!

Ahearn Fund 50-for-50 campaign update
Every day, I am continually reminded of how special and unique the people of K-State are. With anticipated sellouts for each home football game this season and Ahearn Fund membership at record high numbers, you are making possible strategic investments as we continue toward the vision of a Model Intercollegiate Athletic Program, and for that, I say Thank You!

Celebrating its 50th Anniversary, the Ahearn Fund is currently in a 50-day membership drive to reach, for the first time ever, 10,000 members. In the last three weeks, 300 new members have joined, bringing Ahearn Fund membership to nearly 9,800 members. If you are already a member or have recently joined, again, I thank you! Now we need 200 others that are passionate about K-State Athletics to push us to 10,000 members by April 25. We hope to be able to celebrate reaching the 10,000 member milestone at the Spring Game on Saturday, April 26. With memberships starting at $50, I'm positive we can reach this goal. I invite you to join the Ahearn Fund today by clicking here, calling Eric Buda or Jen Schulte at 888-232-9074888-232-9074 or visiting ahearnfund.com.

College athletics in the national news
Off the fields and courts, college athletics has continued to provide plenty of content for the national media and talk show pundits. First, of course, is the effort led by a former Northwestern University quarterback to have its football players declared as employees and allowed to unionize. There could be many unintended and unanticipated consequences of such a step, and it will be interesting to see what the Northwestern players decided to do when they vote later this month.

I am frequently asked what I think about this topic. I certainly don't have all the answers, but I do know that we (universities and conferences, the NCAA, etc.) have not done a good job through the years of articulating the value of an athletic scholarship and the intercollegiate athletics experience. I have previously detailed the value of a K-State Athletic scholarship and I feel just as strongly today that the significance and value of athletic aid at universities across the nation has never been greater. Also left unsaid (and undervalued) is the access to some of America's great universities (including K-State) earned by athletic prowess. There are countless stories of college student-athletes who leverage this opportunity and the notoriety of intercollegiate athletics into a head start in their careers.

I am optimistic that potential legislation like the recent recommendation by the NCAA legislative council to deregulate nutrition and provision of meal access for student-athletes will increase the value of those scholarships even more. With our brand-new Ahearn Fund Performance Table in the West Stadium Center we are in position to potentially increase the number of meals we offer from our five dinners a week as that becomes permissible.

Steel rising on new MHK terminal
As my Twitter followers know, I am a frequent traveler on American Eagle's daily jet flights to DFW and Chicago ORD as are many of our coaches, students, professors and staff. Even though navigating the parking lot has been challenging at times, it is exciting to see the steel rising on the first phase of the new MHK passenger terminal. MHK truly has a link to the world thanks to our American Airlines service. Did you know that each day an average of 16.9 of the 200-plus passengers departing from MHK are heading to an international destination? Last Tuesday I went with city commissioner Rich Jankovich and Chamber of Commerce president Lyle Butler to visit American Airlines headquarters in Dallas. American continues to be positive about the MHK flights (currently three times daily to DFW and twice a day to ORD). Be sure and spread the word about our excellent and convenient service to your friends as they are planning trips to our region.

Another benefit of MHK
Through a minor accident last week I was reminded of how convenient it is to live in Manhattan, as I received a text message from my 13-year-old son's baseball coach at about 7 p.m. last Thursday while sitting in the office finishing up some paperwork. Seems my son had cut his finger on the fence at practice... so it took me about 10 minutes to get to City Park to pick him up and about 10 more minutes to get to the emergency room at Mercy Regional Hospital - where in about an hour the super-efficient ER staff has us through triage, paperwork, exam, and six stitches — and out the door and at home by 9 p.m. Is this a great town or what?!

Traveling the back roads of Kansas
With our teams out of town this past weekend I was able to drive my son to his team's tournament in Hays on Saturday afternoon, even though his injury kept him on the sideline. I had been to Hays for Catbacker events but had never had time to explore the town and our sister Board of Regents campus Fort Hays State University - we had a great postgame dinner and a tasty locally-raised ribeye at Gella's Diner downtown.

On Sunday morning I dropped off Jack at the ball field and headed north to a place that I have wanted to visit ever since I arrived at K-State five years ago. I saw lots of evidence of the people and economy of Kansas hard at work as I drove up highway 183 and turned west on highway 24 at Stockton, including plenty of new oil rigs, cattle and calves in the fields and various other agri-business activities. Soon I arrived at my destination, Nicodemus, perhaps the most famous of all the post-Civil War settlements of freed slaves. Of course for K-Staters it is also known as the home of Wildcat legend Veryl Switzer. Nicodemus is a National Historic Site and you can read more about its important history.

On the way back to I-70, I had a bonus find as I stumbled on to the town of Damar and the beautiful St. Joseph's Church, constructed in 1912 by the French Canadians who settled there in 1888. Just another example of the rich history of the Sunflower State!

That will do it for today. We covered a broad range of topics but in closing, I want to thank each and every one of you for doing your part in making K-State such a special place. We live in a terrific state, in one of America's classic college towns and are blessed to be a part of a wonderful university community.

Thank you, and...

Go 'Cats!