Less than a week after former head coach Frank Martin left the K‐State men’s basketball program to become the head coach at the University of South Carolina, K‐State athletics director John Currie has filled the head coaching vacancy as former Illinois’ head coach. Bruce Weber was introduced at a press conference in the Legends Room of Bramalage Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
“I could not be more excited about the opportunity that has presented itself here at K-State,” said Weber. “I’m happy to come to a place that has great tradition. When I’ve talked with people over the last couple of weeks, the main thing they emphasize to me – my mentors and peers — that I just don’t take any job. So I’m very fortunate to take a job where there is already something built. Frank has created a positive culture, along with Bob Huggins. It makes it easier as a coach when you go to a place that has tradition. You understand you don’t have to recreate, you don’t have to re-energize and, obviously, there’s some pretty good players here that have had success in both the Big 12 and even in the NCAA Tournament. This is a tremendous job for me.”
Sporting a purple tie, Weber addressed K‐State media members as well as several players for the first time publicly as the head coach of the Wildcats.
“It’s a true honor to be here and be named the head basketball coach at such an institution,” said Weber after being introduced by Currie. “Why K‐State? To me, it’s first tradition. You cannot go to a program if it hasn’t been successful, and continue that success. Now we have to continue that tradition.”
Weber takes over after being fired from Illinois after nine seasons as the head coach for the Fighting Illini. In his time at Illinois, Weber posted an overall record of 210‐101, including a NCAA championship game appearance in 2005.
During that 2004‐05 season, Weber coached the Fighting Illini to the best record in school history, finishing 37‐2, tying the NCAA record for most wins in a season. Weber won several coaching awards that season including the Naismith College Coach of the Year, Associated Press National Coach of the Year, and the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year.
Under Weber this season, the Fighting Illini finished 17‐15 overall and 6‐12 in the Big Ten conference but went only 2‐12 in the team’s final 14 games. In the past six seasons, however, Weber’s teams were just 55‐66 in Big Ten play.
Prior to his nine‐year stint with Illinois, Weber was the head coach at Southern Illinois, where he went 103‐54 in five seasons, including two NCAA tournament appearances, one of which resulted in a Sweet Sixteen appearance in the 2001‐02 season.
Next season’s home opener won’t be the first time Weber has coached in Bramlage Coliseum, however, as Weber was at Purdue as an assistant coach and coached against the Wildcats in the first game K‐State ever played in Bramlage Coliseum on November 26, 1988.
“I was here the first game, opening day, at Bramlage Coliseum,” said Weber. “81‐77. The officials were horrible and we lost. From that day on, great student section, great fan support, and also great facilities. You have a basis of tradition, you have the basis of a team that has a chance to be successful, you have the fan support, you have the facilities, and you have a great league. The Big 12 is here, and it’s going to be here for a long time. It has tremendous tradition and reputation. It’s a no brainer for me, to come and be the coach at K‐State and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Currie, in his first hiring opportunity of a head coach at K‐State, has faced much pressure from K‐State fans on social media outlets such as Twitter to hire a “home‐run” of a coach.
“If anybody’s upset, be upset at John Currie,” said Currie. “All K‐Staters should get behind our head basketball coach, because he (Weber) is our head basketball coach.”