If Kansas State athletic director John Currie already has someone in mind to fill the vacancy left by Deb Patterson, who was fired as women’s basketball coach this past Friday, he isn’t saying so, at least publically.
On Sunday, Currie said K-State would conduct an open national search for the Wildcats’ new coach and that there’s no official timetable to wrap up that process. He reiterated that this week during an interview on KMAN radio’s Wildcat Insider.
‘It’s quite likely some, or all of the candidates that would be interested in the position, and that we would target, are continuing to play (in postseason tournaments),’ Currie said. ‘We have to respect their focus on their own team, so that stretches out the timeline a little bit.’
Whoever does take over the women’s program could be inheriting a promising young roster next season — highlighted by All-Big 12 freshman Leti Romero — assuming nobody chooses to transfer following the coaching change.
Financially, Currie said K-State will be competitive in finding a new coach. Patterson, who compiled a 350-226 record in 18 seasons, was paid a base salary of $600,000 this year. A three-year extension that would have paid Patterson $675,000 for the 2016-17 season — signed two years ago — was set to kick in next month upon the completion of her 2009 contract. As part of her compensation package, Patterson will receive $125,000 for completing her initial five-year term as coach, as well as another $25,000 after being terminated without cause following the 2013-14 season, according to KSU officals.
‘We’ll be appropriately competitive and it will reflect the experience and the market,’ Currie told KMAN. ‘We’re not going to go out there and outbid anybody — because we don’t have to. We can hire great people and do it in a fiscallyresponsible way.’
Currie has no doubt this is an attractive position. He made that case on Sunday.
‘That basketball training facility, for women and men, is one of the finest facilities in the country and a completely equal facility,’ Currie said during the press conference announcing his decision to fire Patterson. ‘We have tremendous fan support here… This program has won Big 12 championships, competed at the highest level, and produced WNBA players.
‘Those are things that are attractive to prospective coaches. We’ll work hard to find the person who is the right fit for KState.’
While Currie searches for his coach, the healing process begins for a team that a week ago was preparing to play in the Big 12 tournament and now tries to move on facing an uncertain future.
‘This group is very close to their coaching staff — I would be very disappointed if I walked into a room and the players didn’t care,’ said Currie, who addressed the team last Sunday afternoon after the staff informed the team of the coaching change. ‘This group certainly cared very much for their coaching staff, as they certainly should.
‘It’s a process to go through, a transition process most people haven’t been through before and they’ll stick together and they’ll be just fine… We’ll work very hard to minimize that time of uncertainty.’
Part of that process also included reaching out to former Wildcats — including nearly an entire generation of players who played under Patterson the last 18 years.
‘We did send a letter to all of our former basketball players in our women’s program and I included my cell phone number and my e-mail,’ Currie told KMAN. ‘I got some good text messages with comments and suggestions and what that tells you is that whether people are supportive or not supportive of the change, the reality of it is that we’re taking a step.
‘Time will tell if it’s the right step or not. But right now, I believe people are getting focused on supporting who we hire and supporting these women in our program.’