Kansas State sets a record for cash contributions

A year after disillusioned donors threatened to cut support for

cash-strapped Kansas State following revelations of the outgoing

administration’s financial mismanagement, the Wildcats have set a

record for cash contributions.

Bill Snyder may be the least surprised. The passion and loyalty

of Kansas State fans is something he knows well heading into his

19th season as head football coach.

”That’s why I’m sitting at this table today,” Snyder said

Friday at Kansas State’s annual media day. ”If it wasn’t for them,

I wouldn’t be here. It’s been about people. What makes them so

special? I’m not sure I can answer the question.”

Year after year, the Wildcats have to get by with one of the

smallest budgets in the Big 12, a shoestring compared with wealthy

titans such as Texas and Oklahoma, and even the well-heeled Kansas

Jayhawks down the road.

But with $14.47 million donated in 2009-10, the Wildcats broke

their old record by more than $4 million. The money does more than

help keep the athletic department afloat. It also reminds everyone

of the loyalty and family-like relationship K-Staters have with

their teams, Snyder said. It’s something players and coaches both

sense.

”I think there’s a genuine, sincere, caring loyalty they

possess,” Snyder said.

Snyder had retired after 17 successful seasons in which he

earned former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer’s vote for ”coach of

the century.” But three years later when his successor was

dismissed and the Wildcats were in trouble, he put the golf clubs

and the fishing pole back in the closet and dusted off his

playbook.

Now, following a 6-6 record last year, he’s ready to embark on

year No. 2 of tour No. 2, with a goal of rewarding Kansas State

fans with a winner.

”For me, it goes back to when I first came here,” he said.

”That’s why I came. That’s why I stayed. That’s why I came back.

If it wasn’t for the people of Kansas State, I wouldn’t be

back.”

Improving on last year’s record won’t be automatic, but no one

would count Snyder out. He’ll go into the season with senior

running back Daniel Thomas, who led the Big 12 last year with 1,265

yards rushing.

”Even though we didn’t go to a bowl game last year, I think the

leadership started to emerge in the locker room,” Thomas said.

”We’re a better team than we were last year.”

Thomas’ year was even more remarkable because he played almost

the entire season with a sore shoulder.

”I hurt it the last play of the first game,” he said. ”After

that, it continued to get worse. It’s 100 percent right now.”

Exactly who’ll be handing off to Thomas still is up in the air.

Snyder said three candidates are close, including Carson Coffman,

who was the starter at the outset of last season.

”I think the sky is the limit for us,” Thomas said. ”We have

a lot of playmakers on offense so I think we can be as good as we

want to be.”