How West Virginia/Louisville joining Big 12 will impact K-State and Frank Martin, plus an update on stadium expansion

If Missouri leaves the Big 12 in the next few days and is replaced by West Virginia or Louisville, as most are expecting, every program in the conference will have to add the cost of a few more flights to their travel budgets.

Both West Virginia and Louisville sit outside the current Big 12 footprint, and would require plane rides to get to. Long plane rides in the case of West Virgina.

What does that mean for an athletic department like Kansas State? It means more money will be spent transporting its teams to away games. But not as much as you might think.

“It’s all relative,” said K-State athletic director John Currie. “Colorado was a flight for all of our teams. Texas A&M is a flight for just about all of our teams. Every once in a while we’ll bus a big group down there. Most trips from the schools we potentially lose are flights anyways.”

TCU is set to join the Big 12 next year to replace Texas A&M. With daily flights from Manhattan to Dallas, K-State’s teams can easily fly commercially to games against the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth, Texas.

K-State traditionally charters a round-trip flight to Missouri for weekday games, and flies one way for weekend games and buses the other.

Martin vs. Huggins
What does K-State basketball coach Frank Martin think about potentially going up against his mentor Bob Huggins, who spent one season in Manhattan as head coach before leaving for West Virginia?

“It would be awesome,” Martin said. “It would be awesome for the league, because I think the world of him. He’s a Hall of Fame guy. So it continues to give men’s basketball an unbelievable amount of credibility in the Big 12 … If it happens, I think it would be great. If it doesn’t happen, the Big 12 is still great.”

Snyder Family Stadium expansion update
When Kansas State athletic director John Currie began informing donors over the summer that the university was planning an expansion to the West side of Snyder Family Stadium, he received positive feedback.

That reaction has intensified with the Wildcats’ 7-0 start. Excitement is building around the program, and that has led to the possibility of more donations.

“When we’re having success, certainly that makes for positive beginnings of conversations,” Currie said. “In our history we have raised money when we weren’t having success, but it is certainly nice to be successful.”

The expansion, which is projected to cost more than $60 million, will renovate restrooms and concession areas that have not been updated since 1968 and give the press box an entirely new look.

Instead of covering a portion of the field, it will extend from end zone to end zone and make the entire facility seem larger.

“We need to elevate what we look like,” Currie said. “There’s a great deal of interest. There has become a realization comparatively. Missouri has done a great job, Kansas has done a great job, Oklahoma State, where we go in two weeks, has done an incredible job of transforming their stadium. Iowa State has done a great job. When you look across the board, the bar has been raised.”

What exactly the structure will look like or feature is not yet known, but Currie and K-State president Kirk Schulz have said they have toured similar facilities at Texas Tech and Minnesota for inspiration.

Schulz has said there is a high demand for additional club-level seating. Currie wants the new press box to enhance the university as a whole. He wants a structure that can be used for much more than football. Ideally, he envisions athletic and academic staff meetings taking place there, and being able to rent it out for private events such as wedding receptions.

“It’s not just keeping up with the Joneses in how we look,” Currie said. “It really gets back to functionality and creating a revenue environment. It becomes providing space within a facility that is usable year round instead of six times a year.”

Currie wouldn’t divulge any details about recent fund raising efforts, or when designs for the expansion might be announced. But so far, he thinks everything is going well.

“I’m very encouraged at the passion and enthusiasm I think our people have,” Currie said. “There is a perception of need.”