Bruce Weber’s program narrowly made it into the postseason last year with a late season run.
Gene Taylor didn’t become the Kansas State athletic director until after that season was over. On Tuesday, Taylor made his biggest move since arriving when he announced an extension for Weber’s contract, two more years through the 2020-21 season.
Taylor said after having a few conversations with Weber, he felt good enough to add two years to a contract that was set to expire after the 2018-19 season.
“When I got here, Bruce was one of the first guys I met with,” Taylor said. “The folks that I know in the business of college basketball said a lot of good things about Bruce. The last couple months just watching him and getting to know him and really watching his players respond to him, both his current players and his former players — I enjoy talking to him — I felt it was the right time. I just feel comfortable with Bruce and like what he’s doing.”
There were no big changes to Weber’s salary, which will continue to increase by $100,000 each year as it had in previous contracts. Weber is set to make $2.15 million next year.
The biggest change comes with his buyout, which falls from $2.5 million to $500,000 on May 1, 2019.
“I don’t want everybody to focus on the buyout,” Taylor said. “For me it’s more about the extension.”
Weber, who spoke with the media from vacation in Florida, was happy with the deal he got and what it says about perception of the program.
“I really appreciate president (Richard) Myers and Gene’s vote of confidence,” Weber said. “The thing I’m happy most for is for our program — our players and coaches and players’ parents — because that’s the question you get all the time. In today’s college athletics, the stability and longevity of coaches is not always there.”
Weber’s been to the NCAA tournament three times in his five-year tenure and won the Big 12 Championship during his first season in Manhattan. Taylor said it’s hard to find many athletic directors who would pass up that kind of success from their men’s basketball coach.
When Weber and Taylor met, Weber outlined his expectations for the program to be competitive in the upper half of the Big 12, to have a chance to win the league and to make the NCAA tournament.
They lined up with what Taylor wanted, too.
“If our expectations were at opposite ends we probably wouldn’t have done it, but I think his expectations were very similar to mine,” Taylor said. “He believes he can get there, and I believe he can get there too.”
A year ago, when K-State was in the midst of a losing streak in February, some K-state fans started to become more vocal about their desires to see Weber removed as head coach.
Even after the Wildcats made a run into the postseason, some fans seemed dissatisfied with the end of a two-year absence in the NCAA tournament.
Taylor acknowledged he hears from some fans and he sees some of the negative posts on social media. But it doesn’t take away from his confidence in the decision to extend Weber’s contract.
“There are as many people and probably more people that support Bruce and want him to stay here and believe in what he’s doing,” he said.
“Have I got some emails of people that would like to go? Absolutely. I think that’s what makes this place special. If we had a fan base that was apathetic and didn’t care, I wouldn’t be here, and I don’t think we’d have the expectations we do.”