John Currie being interviewed. Credit: Travis Heying

Exceeding Expectations: Explaining The Fiscal Success Of K-State's Athletic Department

Athletics at the high-major level is usually a place of unrealistically high expectations. But K-State has recently developed a reputation as the “plucky underdog,” not expected to do much, yet often surpassing the unfairly low bar set by others. In the past year, KSU has once more exceeded expectations. For once, it has nothing to do with the word “underdog.”

According to Athletic Director John Currie, K-State set a new record for total gifts to the athletic department in the 2012 fiscal year. Fans and alumni donated $25.8 million, and Ahearn Fund membership grew by 12%. The phrase “We Own Texas”–so often applied by our fans to our school’s endeavors “between the lines”–now also describes K-State Athletics’ profits from the 2010-11 fiscal year. While Texas had the most gross revenue of Division I FBS public universities for that time span, KSU was the most profitable–to the tune of around $23 million.

Both football and volleyball season ticket sales are up from where they were at this time last year. In June, football season ticket sales were extremely close to record numbers–records that were set back in 2001. Mulling these numbers over, there are several reasons why K-State’s financial situation is not simply moving in the right direction, but actually reaching levels it never has before.

First, we can thank our athletes and coaches for being so successful over the past 2 years (at least). Winning games gets fans excited, and there wouldn’t be such a significant increase in donations and ticket sales if it wasn’t happening.

Second, while some may dislike the man, there’s no denying that John Currie has more than done his job when it comes to managing the dollars that the Wildcats bring in. He has cut costs, helped increase donations and initiated 2 major facility upgrades. K-Staters everywhere have responded to Currie’s leadership of the athletic department, and here’s hoping he stays with us for awhile.

Third, the marketing minds within the athletic department took a cue from Bill Snyder himself, with the rollout of “The Sixteen” promotional video series. Each video represents one of Coach Snyder’s 16 Goals for Success, and they serve as an exciting reminder to buy season tickets so you won’t miss out on the experience that is K-State football. These creative “reminders” almost certainly boosted ticket sales.

And innovative ticket sales initiatives don’t stop with the football team. The K-State volleyball team hand delivered season tickets to several fans around Manhattan. Additionally, volleyball season ticket holders can refer friends and family to buy season tickets through a new referral program. Prizes are awarded to season ticket holders based on how many people they refer.

In short, Kansas State Athletics is in a good place right now. We are known for supporting our alma mater financially, and we attend sporting events in droves. With our shiny new facilities and an outstanding athletic director, K-State will continue to have a record-breaking athletic department.

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Tags: Athletic Department John Currie K-State Kansas State Ticket Sales

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