The Kansas State athletic department is losing one of its best-known and longest-tenured administrators.
Laird Veatch, a former K-State football player who recently served as interim athletic director before the university hired Gene Taylor to fill the full-time position, has taken a job at Florida as the Gators’ executive associate athletic director for internal affairs.
“As Manhattan natives and K-State graduates, (my wife) and I never imagined leaving the place we love so much,” Veatch said in a news release. “It would take an incredibly special opportunity for us to do so, and the chance to join Scott’s (Stricklin) administrative team supporting programs that compete at the very highest level in the Southeastern Conference is just that.”
Veatch leaves Manhattan after a 7 1/2-year career within the athletic department that included roles as associate AD for capital support, senior associate AD, executive associate AD and deputy AD under former athletic director John Currie.
“I will always be grateful to John Currie and our university leadership for the opportunity to return home and develop such meaningful life-long friendships. Gene (Taylor) has been great to our family, and it would have been an honor to remain at K-State and learn from him. He is an excellent fit for K-State, and we look forward to following K-State’s continued success under his leadership. We will always be Wildcats, but this is a chance for my family and me to grow in exciting new ways and experience things we never expected. We are excited to get to Florida and begin this new chapter in our lives.”
Veatch was considered a prime candidate to replace Currie when he left to become athletic director at Tennessee, but K-State ultimately decided against promoting him into that role and hired Taylor from Iowa, where he served as the Hawkeyes’ deputy athletic director.
At Taylor’s introductory news conference, university president went out of his way to thank Veatch for his contributions to the athletic department and said he hoped Veatch would continue working under Taylor. Veatch helped K-State raise millions for upgrades to its athletic facilities.
But that wasn’t to be.
“Laird has been a Wildcat his entire life and played a major part of this department’s success over the years,” Taylor said. “While I would have loved to see him stay and continue that working relationship, I fully understand that this was an outstanding opportunity for him and his family and one that he could not pass up. We know that Scott and his staff are getting a great person in Laird and wish him and his family all the best.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett