Kansas State University

Gene Taylor 'very pleased' by start of his first coaching search as K-State AD

Kansas State University athletic director Gene Taylor with the Kansas City Royals mascot Sluggerrr and KSU's Willie the Wildcat after throwing out the first pitch before Friday's baseball game against the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
Kansas State University athletic director Gene Taylor with the Kansas City Royals mascot Sluggerrr and KSU's Willie the Wildcat after throwing out the first pitch before Friday's baseball game against the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

Gene Taylor likes the way his first coaching search as Kansas State athletic director is unfolding.

"It's been very good," Taylor said earlier this week at a Catbackers event in Wichita. "I am very pleased with the interest level and the quality of the candidates. As we have talked to candidates and gauged their interest in the job there is a ton of respect for K-State baseball.

"They see it as a high-potential job where they can be successful on a regular basis. There are coaches who have shown interest on all levels — head coaches and assistant coaches. We are going to start working through those names and get the process going."

Brad Hill, the most successful coach in school history, announced he was ready to step down after 15 years on the job earlier this month. Since then, Taylor has been sizing up applicants and compiling a list of potential replacements.

It's not a pressure-packed search, at least when compared to the one Taylor will face whenever football coach Bill Snyder retires, but it could reveal some clues as to how Taylor might approach higher-profile decisions.

For starters, he knows what qualities he wants from the next baseball coach.

"Obviously, K-State values," Taylor said, "someone who does it the right way. I also want someone who has been part of building programs and rebuilding programs, someone who has that on their resume and a history of going in and turning programs around and being part of multiple successful programs. It's just a matter of who is the best fit for us and who really wants to come Kansas State."

Finding that type of person is a challenging task, but it might not be as difficult as you think.

Remember, K-State baseball was in a terrific place five years ago. Hill was regularly taking the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament and then everything came together in 2013 when they won a Big 12 championship and advanced to a super regional, one game from the College World Series.

Hill was unable sustain that success, but it showed what K-State baseball was capable of. With state-of-the-art facilities on the way, it is a desirable job for many candidates.

"Who understands our situation?" Taylor said. "That is an important question. We are the most northern school in the Big 12, but we have some advantages. We have the facility and we have had success. Do you want to be here for the long haul? That's another question I will ask."

Taylor has a strong history of hiring coaches, albeit never at K-State. As the athletic director at North Dakota State, his prominent hires included football coaches Craig Bohl (now at Wyoming) and Chris Klieman, as well as basketball coach Saul Phillips (now at Ohio). And though he didn't hire him, he supported Tim Miles as he jumped from North Dakota State to Colorado State and Nebraska.

Can he add a successful baseball coach to that list?

We will find out in a few weeks. With the most desirable candidates currently coaching teams in conference tournaments and preparing for the NCAA Tournament, this may not be a fast process. But Taylor expects it to end well.

"We have been down for a couple years, but with the facilities and opportunities we have here I think we will get someone special," Taylor said. "Coaches see K-State baseball as an opportunity to be successful."

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