For new Kansas State athletics director Gene Taylor, the job at K-State was a long time coming. Taylor said he has coveted a head athletics director job at a Power Five school for many years.
“This is a dream come true,” Taylor said. “I had goals when I first started in this business, and the opportunity to be (at) a Power Five institution as the director of athletics is one of them. To be able to be at a place like Kansas State is very special.”
This desire led Taylor to leave his position of athletics director at North Dakota State, where he led the Bison to numerous national championships and made the switch from Division II to Division I. Taylor went to Iowa to serve as deputy athletics director and gain experience with a Power Five program.
With the experience at Iowa, Taylor was ready when the opportunity to be the athletics director at a Power Five school arose. And for Taylor, K-State was the perfect fit.
“I have done my research on this place for a long time,” Taylor said. “One of the first times I wanted to be a part of K-State was at North Dakota State. Early on in my career, we came here with our basketball team. I was very impressed at that point.
“Then, we came back in 2013, and I saw the changes and the transformations with this campus and with the athletics program. I told myself at that point that if John Currie were to ever leave, I was going to do everything I can to put myself in a position to get this opportunity.”
Taylor does not have any Kansas or K-State ties, but President Richard Myers said he is the right person for the job.
“He is not a Kansan, not a K-Stater, but you do not have to be,” Myers said. “What you have to be is a good fit with our family. I think Gene Taylor and his family are a great fit. In all of the interviews we did, the impression I got is that he is going to fit in and start from day one and then build relationships with all the folks that he has to work with, and work for him, and our coaches. This is about ‘fit’ in the end.”
Taylor is set to start the job on May 1. According to Taylor, the first month or so of the job will be listening to his staff and advisers. He said he prefers to have as much input as possible so that any decisions made are the right ones.
Taylor also said he prefers to have close personal relationships with coaches and players, no matter who they are; he wants them to call him “Gene.”
“I think it is just being approachable,” Taylor said. “I try to go to as many practices as I can. I go to events and games. I welcome student-athletes to come see me and get a chance to know me.”
“It really goes beyond just them as an athlete … you eventually get to know them as individuals, you get to be around them and you get comfortable with them. I am really open. I am approachable. I really enjoy learning about them, what their goals are and what they want to do.”
K-State announced the hiring of Taylor on Friday before he arrived Monday for introductions. The need for a new athletics director came after John Currie left for the same position at Tennessee after working at K-State since 2009.
Taylor’s contract runs through 2022 and starts with a base salary of $400,000 with a $50,000 raise scheduled once a year.
Myers also spoke about the future of head men’s basketball coach Bruce Weber, saying nothing is set, but a contract extension for Weber is in the works.
Myers said the contract extension is something that “will land on (Taylor’s) desk pretty darn quick.” Weber’s current contract runs through the next two seasons.