K-State Director of Athletics Gene Taylor joined K-State Senior Director of Broadcasting/Video Services Brian Smoller for a Facebook Live edition of Ask the AD this week.
Here are a few of the most interesting quotes and soundbites from a discussion that covered a return to voluntary on-campus activities and the upcoming college football season along with questions from K-State fans. The conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.
The NCAA voted this week to allow student-athletes in football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball to resume voluntary on-campus activities beginning on June 1. What was your reaction to that decision?
GT: We thought it was going to be a football-only recommendation and if you wanted to go back on June 1, then you could, but that it was going to be up to each conference to make that decision. It came back as June 1 for football, men’s and women’s basketball. Our presidents and chancellors in the Big 12 are really going to be the final decision-makers for our conference.
Even though the NCAA came out with June 1, we still have some work to do and I don’t think those voluntary activities in the Big 12 will resume until June 15. We’re also hearing that the SEC and Pac-12 are going to do the June 15 date, but that the Big 10 is going with June 1.
Will it give one conference a competitive advantage if they can start before another?
GT: I talked to Coach Klieman about this, but it’s probably not as much of a competitive advantage than it would be if you brought the entire team back and did football-related activities like a normal summer. With voluntary activities, student-athletes can come in and lift on their own, run on their own and use our facilities, but there’s not going to be any football-related activities. Even if somebody starts on June 1 and we start on June 15, Coach Klieman didn’t feel that was going to be a huge advantage for some schools over others. Some of the other ADs and coaches we talked to feel the same way.
Do you think there is going to be a college football season this fall?
GT: I absolutely believe that. What version of college football is what we’re going to have to talk about. I’m on a sub-committee of Big 12 ADs right now and that’s one of the things we’re looking at is what does a college football schedule look like? I think everybody’s priority is starting with Week 0 on August 29, when there are about half a dozen games scheduled, but the majority of schools will start along with K-State on September 5.
From there, we start building models of what it would like if we pushed the start of the season back to the end of September and still wanted to get 12 games in, both conference and non-conference, that might take us the middle of December. What issues would we face with that? If that would be too challenging and wouldn’t work, what would a conference-only season look like? We’ll start working on those models, but everyone’s priority and goal is to play 12 games. After that, it’s probably a conference-only season, but our goal is to play as much football as we can.
What are some of the preventative measures in place to keep student-athletes safe once they come back to campus?
GT: We started that process this week with some of the staff we’ve allowed back on campus. One of our team docs, Dr. Kyle Goerl, has been a part of Big 12 and national conversations about when we can return to play and things to have in place for the safety of the athletes. Some of the things that we’re doing now with our staff is we all enter through the main doors of Vanier, you’re asked a set of questions about symptoms, you get your temperature taken, when you’re in hallways and public spaces you’re wearing a mask. When you get to your office and you’re by yourself, then you can obviously take that mask off.
We’re also going to limit the number of student-athletes when we have voluntary workouts in the weight room. Our strength and conditioning staff are looking at that right now. Cleaning is going to be a big deal and our facilities and custodial staff are already back. Right now, we’re opening up to a few staff members from Monday to Thursday and then shutting down on Friday to give our custodial staff time to do a deep clean of all the common areas.
What measures are being planned to keep fans safe once they return to games at K-State?
GT: The move to digital ticketing was based on a combination of things that we talked about for a while. It may be an inconvenience for some fans but so many stadiums are moving towards digital tickets that you can get on your phone or print at home. That helps as a safety step and it’s also a cost-saving measure for us. We’ve also ordered a lot of hand sanitizer and masks and gloves will be worn by our staff that are working the gates. Our concessions partner, Sodexo, is working on ways to serve food in the concessions area as well as the premium areas. Clearly, masks will be important. Whether we have 20 percent or 30 percent of fans allowed or all fans can come back, whatever that number is, masks are going to be a big piece. All those things are in place and being talked about every day.
Has going through this shared adversity strengthened the relationship between Big 12 schools?
GT: I’m fairly new to the conference, but I’ve always enjoyed the colleagues that I’ve gotten to know. Not only has this brought us closer together in understanding that we need to make decisions collectively in the Big 12, but I’ve also seen it in Bob Bowlsby’s conversations with other commissioners. Eventually, we are going to go back to playing each other and trying to have success and win championships, but in the meantime, it’s so unusual now that we have to be as competitively equitable as we can. The way to do that is make decisions where all conferences are doing the same thing. So far, that’s been the case. As ADs, whether it’s Joe Castiglione, one of the longest-tenured ADs in the country or Chris Del Conte at Texas, you’re going to push for your institution, but at the end of the day, they know we need to make decisions collectively as a conference. That’s been cool to see.
Here’s the first of two questions from K-State fans on Facebook: How proud are you to see Coach Klieman and the Athletic Communications team recognized as the most accessible team in college football last season?
GT: I think back to the day that I offered Coach Klieman the job and the Athletic Communications staff came up with so many good ideas for fans to get to know him, whether it was the phone call that we made or when we picked him up from the airport and throughout last season. Kenny and your staff have done a tremendous job and Coach Klieman’s ability to be accessible has been great for our fans and from a recruiting perspective. Recruits get a chance to see the coaching staff and feel good about them before they even have a chance to meet them. I think it’s a great award and I’m very proud of you guys, Coach Klieman and his staff.
And finally, what TV shows have you been able to catch up on over the last few months?
GT: There have been two, Ozark was my first one that I got into. I’m hoping there’s going to be another season, even though it’s not something I typically watch. It was unique in a lot of ways. And the other one I watched that is a little more factual is Waco. I was in college at the time and there were so many stories about it. Those are the two that I watched. Ozark I’ll be waiting anxiously for the next season. I did watch Tiger King too.
Source: Kansas State Sports