Manhattan When people say Bill Snyder altered the landscape at Kansas State, it is literally true.
After he revitalized the worst program in major-college history and created a football powerhouse, workers had to widen the roadway leading into town so that every game day Bill Snyder Highway could funnel tens of thousands of cars, campers SUVs and minivans to an expanded Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
But now Kansas State’s most revered name is under suspicion after a 34-page audit painted an embarrassing picture of sloppy oversight and possible conflicts of interest under former president Jon Wefald and former vice president and athletic director Bob Krause.
Snyder has not taken questions from the media, and athletic-department spokesman Kenny Lannou said Snyder would be unable to comment, because the university wants only athletic director John Currie and president Kirk Schulz to discuss the audit.
The audit, commissioned upon Wefald’s retirement, makes no specific charge against anyone. It did reveal that Snyder and several other employees received part of their compensation through their own corporations, which the audit said may create tax-liability issues.
The most damning passage says that no supporting documentation could be found for 13 disbursements totaling $845,000.
“The payees in question included former athletic director Tim Weiser, former head football coach Bill Snyder and (Krause), among others,” it says.
So exactly who got what, and why? Where did the money come from?
“We don’t know yet,” admitted Currie, who parachuted into an enormous mess when he gave up a comfortable job at Tennessee to become Kansas State’s new athletic director.
“I’ve been on campus now for 21⁄2 weeks,” Currie said. “And I’ve said from the very beginning that we were going to be aggressive in getting some objective discovery. We’re kicking over all the rocks.”
As he seeks to assure fans and booster groups that strict new accounting procedures are being put in place, Currie is finding widespread support for the man whose 136 victories between 1989-2005 matched the total of his 11 predecessors for the previous 53 years. Snyder was rehired in November after his replacement, Ron Prince, was fired.
Before Snyder arrived, K-State was the only major college with 500 football losses. The Wildcats never had won a bowl game. In the three previous years, they had not won a game at all.
Some administrators were grumbling that the Wildcats ought to follow Wichita State’s lead and abandon the sport.
Without Snyder, Kansas State may not have a football program today, and K-Staters know it.
Former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer said he ought to be declared the coach of the century.
And other than working his assistant coaches to a bleary-eyed frazzle, there never had been a hint of impropriety on the part of the intense, media-shy man.
In a statement following the audit’s release, Snyder said he’d done nothing wrong.
“All compensation noted in my contract was paid to me or to the corporation. I received nothing more than what was stipulated in my contract,” the statement said.
But suspicion persisted.
So Currie and new president Kirk Schulz sought to reassure fans in a mass e-mailing.
“In our opinion there are no grounds to even begin to insinuate that coach Snyder has ever benefited improperly from his relationship with K-State,” they said.
Unless some specific wrongdoing on his part is uncovered, no one is suggesting that Snyder will not survive.
But until and unless questions raised by the audit get cleared up, a cloud will hover, at least in the distance, over the most beloved figure in a proud school’s long history.