A sect of Kansas State fans have toyed with the thought for years that one of their next hires could/should/would come out of the North Dakota State University pipeline.
Instead of Craig Bohl coming to coach football, however, K-State found its next director of athletics as it announced Friday afternoon that Gene Taylor, who will leave the University of Iowa as Deputy Athletics Director, will assume the position.
Taylor joined the Iowa athletic department after 13 years at North Dakota St., where he helped guide the program through a jump from Division II to Division I.
“Throughout the process, Gene’s experience as an athletics director and his national reputation as a respected leader and someone who has built and maintained tremendous relationships with his staff, coaches, student-athletes and donors stood out in what was an extremely talented pool of candidates,” K-State President Richard Myers said.
While Taylor’s name wasn’t at the front of any speculative lists – at least not those floated or discussed publicly – the hire feels grounded in that it was well-researched, thought out, and executed with a person who appears capable and willing to understand Wildcats culture, both from an administration and fan perspective.
Taylor is someone familiar with running an athletic department built with football as its anchor revenue driver, and he has a resume that seems to indicate he knows how to convince donors to write checks. The NDSU athletics budget tripled from $5 million in Taylor’s first year to $15 million, while the scholarship endowment grew to $11.2 million, and Team Makers booster club support tripled from $750,000 to $2.8 million, all according to the K-State press release issued Friday.
Taylor’s K-State predecessor knew how to raise money as well. The question will be whether the new AD knows how to manage relationships with his coaches and supervise them much better than John Currie did. And, of course, how he’ll handle the current unrest a sizable portion of fans has with men’s basketball coach Bruce Weber.
“Gene Taylor is one of the most respected athletic administrators in the country,” said Gary Barta, University of Iowa Director of Athletics. “He has such a great combination of passion, experience, and the ability to lead by bringing people together toward a common goal.”
Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz also was quoted as saying K-State made a good choice.
“Kansas State has hired a very talented administrator, and a professional who works well with others on all levels to achieve the desired results,” Ferentz said.
It’s hard to believe Taylor, though qualified, was K-State’s first choice. And in fact, one source said Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt turned down the position and will remain at the department he’s run in Lubbock since 2011.
Still, if Taylor proves to be what his resume indicates, K-State may have a winner on its hands.
K-State will officially introduce Taylor on Monday at 10:30 a.m.