Manhattan Kansas State is putting football coach Bill Snyder at the head of the parade in its campaign to recapture the trust of angry donors and disillusioned fans.
“There is no better scenario in all human history than to come into a new presidency and a new athletic directorship and have the greatest coach in the history of the institution (be) a ‘new’ coach on the sideline,” athletic director John Currie said while introducing a series of new initiatives on Monday.
“It couldn’t be a more comforting or reassuring thing for both president (Kirk) Schulz and I.”
Even though Snyder’s name was mentioned in an audit that embarrassed the school and infuriated its fan base, the Wildcats have decided that he is nevertheless the most respected asset they have. He has not been accused of wrongdoing and steadfastly maintains he never received anything that was not due him.
“We have unbelievable confidence in coach Snyder and I’ve been really, really honored to spend time with him,” said Currie. “I’ve already learned so much from him and have even more respect for him than I had when I first walked on the campus six weeks ago.”
Snyder began his resurrection of Kansas State’s long-moribund program in 1989 and tickets that year cost $9. So, Currie announced, there will be 1,989 tickets go on sale for $9 for the Sept. 5 home opener against Massachusetts, a game Kansas State has dubbed a “K-State family reunion” in a drive to sell out Bill Snyder Family Stadium and welcome him back to the sidelines.
After retiring following the 2005 season, Snyder agreed to return when Ron Prince was fired last winter. Nobody knew that six months later revelations of extravagant spending by the previous administration, including athletic director Bob Krause, would make headlines across the country.
The audit, prepared for the departure of president Jon Wefald, uncovered a series of questionable contracts and spending habits. Perhaps most infuriating to Kansas State fans was the eye-popping $3.2 million in deferred compensation for Prince, who was already getting a $1.2 million buyout despite a three-year losing record.
The audit also said no supporting documents could be found for 13 payments totaling $845,000 to Snyder and former athletic directors Krause and Tim Weiser.
“We know we’ve got some trust to rebuild with our fans,” Currie said Monday.
Snyder stood in the back of the room but left without speaking with reporters.
“I know everything he’s received, there wasn’t anything crooked or under the table being done,” said his son, Sean Snyder, a Kansas State assistant athletic director. “For his name to show up on that stuff, it was wrong, it shouldn’t have. There’s nothing we can do about it now. We’ll look forward and move on and whatever happens, happens.”
Last week, the school pledged that no money received through donations or ticket sales would be used to pay off the buyouts. Those obligations, Currie said, will be covered with money generated through television and radio contracts and participation in Big 12 and NCAA events.