Director of bands says he won’t retire until the problems he sees are resolved in heartfelt address to SGA

Frank Tracz leads the Kansas State Marching Band during the football game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan on Oct. 14, 2017. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

Frank Tracz, director of bands and professor of music, said he won’t retire until the band program’s budget and funding is secure. Or until January of 2036, which is when he turns 80.

In his address to Student Governing Association on Thursday, Tracz said his budget was $53,000 when he first started at K-State. The amount provided to the Marching Band by Kansas State hasn’t changed since then, but K-State Athletics supplements the budget with an additional $200,000.

Assistant director of bands Alex Wimmer, Tracz said, is the lowest paid assistant director in the Big 12 conference. With a doctorate degree, he makes a $56,000 salary.

“We’re hoping really hard for a salary increase for Alex Wimmer,” Tracz said. “He’s applying for other jobs and I’m encouraging him to do that. I’m making phones calls. He will move someplace and he’ll work a lot less and make $30,000 more.”

In addition, Tracz said the band is the only one in the Big 12 without an indoor facility to practice in.

“If it lightnings or rains outside and McCain Auditorium is booked, we go in All Faiths Chapel, and if you play in there, it’s dangerous,” Tracz said. “So we will have a meeting of 410 kids paying tuition for a class they don’t have a classroom for.”

Currently, Tracz said there is an assessment to turn West Stadium into an area for the band.

While Tracz has a masters degree, he said that music and directing the K-State band only takes up 10 percent of his time. Something Tracz says he spends more time on recently is visiting students suffering with mental illnesses and other crises. Once upon a time, he said, it happened once or twice a semester. Now, it’s at least once a week.

“I spend way more time doing things I never learned how to do,” Tracz said. “All that matters to me is that you come here … you do your thing and you belong. Nothing else matters to me. All that matters is that you’re a good person. They’re great kids. They’re great people, they care a lot about the university just like you do. They just do it a different way, so I’m very, very proud of them.”

My name is Bailey Britton and I am the former editor-in-chief of the Collegian. Previously, I have been the assistant news editor and the managing editor. I have also interned for the Manhattan Mercury and the Colby Free Press. I grew up in Colby, Kansas, and I am a junior in journalism and English. Through the Collegian, I aim to provide the K-State community with quality news coverage while we learn to serve our campus.