Gene Taylor, who has led K-State Athletics since 2017, has agreed to a contract extension through the 2026-27 academic year, President Richard Myers and the Kansas State Athletics Inc. Board of Directors announced today.
The agreement extends Taylor’s contract through June 30, 2027, with an annual salary of $925,000 beginning in the 2021-2022 academic year. The contract also includes performance and retention incentives.
“Gene Taylor has been a steady guiding force during a challenging time for Kansas State Athletics,” Myers said. “The trajectory of our programs is moving in the right direction and he has demonstrated the ability to manage the budget with integrity under extraordinary circumstances. We see a bright future for K-State under his leadership.”
Taylor, who in June 2020 was named the eighth-best Athletic Director among FBS programs by Stadium, has seen the football program qualify for three bowls, the men’s basketball team win a Big 12 Championship, earn an Elite 8 appearance and advance to two NCAA tournaments, and the women’s track and field team win back-to-back Big 12 Outdoor championships.
Additionally, Taylor and staff have fundraised and begun to implement a departmentwide facility master plan that will benefit all Wildcat teams, including the newly completed baseball and soccer projects in addition to Building Champions, a $105 million initiative focused on the South End Zone of Bill Snyder Family Stadium, a new volleyball arena, an Olympic training center and a football indoor practice facility.
“Our family is extremely fortunate to call K-State and Manhattan home,” Taylor said. “I appreciate President Myers, the KSA Board and the Kansas Board of Regents for their trust in me continuing to lead such a phenomenal athletics program. We have the best fans and donors in the country and a group of coaches, staff and student-athletes who are committed to competing at the highest level, and I am looking forward to the years ahead as we continue to elevate our program.”
Taylor has implemented a strategic plan for the department that places an emphasis on the student-athlete experience, while his leadership in navigating the COVID-19 crisis, in addition to enhancing the department’s already-strong diversity and inclusion program, has been well documented. Most recently, Taylor and his leadership team grew K-State Athletics’ diversity and inclusion program with the implementation of 10 new action items to begin in the 2020-2021 season.
With the support of fans and donors, K-State Athletics has also continued to be financially self-sufficient and does not receive support from the university. In fiscal year 2019, a year earlier than anticipated, the program ended the practice of receiving student privilege fees in support of the program. This move makes Taylor’s program one of eight across the country to operate with no direct or indirect university and student funding or state support.
In addition to achieving a budget surplus for the ninth, 10th and 11th straight years, the department also saw fans and donors contributing $44.4 million in total giving in fiscal year 2019, which is the second-largest figure in department history and marked only the second time ever to eclipse the $40 million mark, while $18.3 million was designated for the department’s annual fund. Fans also contributed in fiscal year 2018 a total of $30.9 million, of which a record $18.9 million was designated for the Ahearn Fund annual giving program surpassing its budgeted goal.
This past year has presented significant challenges for intercollegiate athletics departments across the nation due to the COVID pandemic, but Taylor’s leadership kept the department operating in an efficient manner. In fact, K-State was one of very few programs in the Big 12 to not eliminate positions in the department during the pandemic.
Hiring and retaining top coaches is also a critical function of the program. Taylor hired Chris Klieman to replace hall of fame coach Bill Snyder after winning four national titles in five seasons at North Dakota State, and in his first two seasons has qualified for consecutive bowl games while also knocking off Oklahoma — ranked No. 5 and No. 3 — in back-to-back years. Taylor has also hired Jordan Smith to take over the tennis program and Pete Hughes in baseball, who took the Wildcats back to the Big 12 Championship in his first year on the job.
Graduating student-athletes remains the top priority for the department and academic success has continued under Taylor’s guidance as K-State continues to rank among the top schools in the Big 12 in APR and graduation success rate.