Myers discusses Big 12 expansion

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Kansas State University President Richard Myers said Thursday that he supports Big 12 expansion and that he planned to discuss the matter this week with conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby.

Myers, responding to a question at the Manhattan Rotary Club, said he was influenced by a consultant’s chart that divided major conferences into “aggressors, survivors and extinct” from the last round of conference realignments. In the first category were the other so-called Power 5 conferences: The SEC, the Big 10, the Pac-12 and the ACC. The Mountain West and the Big East were in the “extinct” category, while the Big 12 was listed as a “survivor.”

“I don’t want to be a survivor,” Myers said.  “I want to be an aggressor.”

Myers, a K-State graduate and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is currently filling in as president during a search for a permanent replacement for Kirk Schulz. Myers said he planned to talk on the phone soon with Bowlsby on the subject.

He said he didn’t have any particular insight about which schools were the best candidates. “I don’t know, and I can’t even guess. You can read in the paper all the options.”

He said there’s “a lot of politics involved in this.” He also said some schools he’s heard about “would be a pretty good fit…and then you think about other schools that, if you were to inject $30 million per year for four or five years, where would they be?”

That figure is a rough estimate of the additional money schools can capture by being part of a major conference with a big-money television contract. The Big 12, which nearly disintegrated and ended up with 10 schools in the last big game of musical chairs, decided this summer to go on the offensive and look seriously at adding two schools. There have been no decisions yet and no candidates named officially. Some of the possibilities appear to include Cincinnati, Houston and BYU.

On other subjects at his speech Thursday, Myers said:

• He had to deal with five to 10 emails per day this summer from animal-rights activists over the student gag during finals period last spring to bring camels on campus. (“Hump day,” get it?) He said K-State, with its strong veterinary school background, knows how to keep care of animals, and that the controversy seems to have passed. “We rode that one out, no pun intended.”

• The university has raised $880 million toward its $1 billion private fundraising campaign. “We’ll exceed the goal and we’ll get done early,” he said.

• The Legislature was making “a tremendous mistake” by not supporting higher education better. He said Kansas needs a talented workforce to attract employers, “since we don’t have beaches.”

“To show a lack of appreciation for what higher education brings…is particularly short-sighted,” he said. “It’s particularly painful for Kansas State University, which is a land-grant institution, and which is all about access and affordability.”

• The university is planning a commemoration of World War I, along with Fort Riley, to take place at Memorial Stadium in 2017.

• The occupancy permit for Wefald Hall — the university’s new dorm — came through last Friday night. Students moved in on Saturday.

• Enrollment appeared to be pretty stable. Myers said nothing was too solid until the 20th day of class, but he said, “Don’t expect big changes.”

He said enrollment by Chinese students appeared to be down, and he said that had to do with economic conditions in China.

Brewery offering tours of expanding operation

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Less than two weeks after expanding into the Texas market, Tallgrass Brewing Co.

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Six-week KSU program brings 100 teachers from Mexico

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After six weeks learning new ways to inspire students back home, 100 teachers and administrators from Mexico celebrated in Bluemont Hotel on Thursday with music, food and many expressions of gratitude to K-State and each other.

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MHS: 14 students absent with flu

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Manhattan High School has seen an unusual number of students out sick with flu-like symptoms, principal Greg Hoyt said Thursday.

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Why did the city change parking rules on Fremont?

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Q: I wonder why the City of Manhattan is now allowing parking on the south side of Fremont at City Park? The pedestrian traffic from City Park to Aggieville is always busy, and the line of sight with parked vehicles does cause a hazard for drivers on Fremont.

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Fort Riley to host national housing conference

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The Department of the Army and Installation Management Command are hosting the annual Army-wide housing training workshop, Housing the Force, at Riley’s Conference Center Monday through Thursday.

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MHS continues to post ACT scores above state average

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Manhattan High School students continue to perform better on the ACT than the state and national average.

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Schartz sees room for improvement after scrimmage

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It almost felt like a Friday night at Bishop Stadium, as fans got a first glimpse of Manhattan football.

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Wildcats open season at Wahine Invitational

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The Kansas State volleyball team gets the 2016 season underway with the Rainbow Wahine Invitational, hosted by the University of Hawaii in Honolulu from Friday to Sunday.

The Wildcats open the season against Arizona on Friday. The Cats will then face No. 6 Hawaii on Saturday and finish their trip with No. 4 Wisconsin on Sunday.

All four teams in the Wahine Invitational qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season.

K-State is 0-3 all-time against Arizona with its last meeting coming in 2014. The Wildcats are 0-5 against Hawaii, with the last matchup occurring in 2010, also the last time they participated in the Wahine Invitational. The series between K-State and Wisconsin is split 2-2, with the Badgers taking last season’s meeting 3-1 (Sept. 18).

K-State returns 11 letterwinners from 2015, including its entire starting lineup which finished fourth in the Big 12 and clinched a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.

In addition to the 11 letterwinners, the Wildcats welcome back outside hitter Kylee Zumach, who played in just seven sets before suffering a season-ending knee injury.  Zumach was the 2014 Big 12 Freshman of the Year as well as a unanimous selection to the 2014 All-Big 12 First and Freshman teams.

This marks the second straight season, and seventh time overall, that the Wildcats return their top three in kills as well as the starting setter and libero. K-State returns 98 percent of its kills from 2015 and 99 percent of its digs.

Last year’s fourth-place finish in the Big 12 standings was the second time K-State slotted in that spot over the last five seasons ( 2011). K-State ended the conference campaign with nine wins for the second year in a row and third time over the last five years.

Under head coach Suzie Fritz, K-State has placed fourth or higher in the Big 12 eight times. 

K-State held its opponents to a .212 hitting percentage, helped by a Big 12-leading 17.56 digs per set. The Wildcats led the conference in digs per set for both overall matches and Big 12 contests (18.18).

For the first time in program history, K-State featured four players with 300-plus digs.

The quartet of Wildcats included Kersten Kober (500), Katie Brand (332), Bryna Vogel (329) and Brooke Sassin (324). 

 Kober’s career-high 500 digs were the most by a Wildcat since 2010 and seventh-most ever in a single season.

Kober, who finished fourth last season in the Big 12 with 4.67 digs per set in overall matches, also averaged 5.16 digs in Big 12 contests, which was the highest by a Wildcat in conference-only matches since 2002.

Junior Brooke Sassin became the first K-State outside hitter, and the eighth Wildcat overall, to join the double-300 club in the rally-scoring era (since 2001), as she had a career-high 378 kills and 324 digs.

Brand became the first Wildcat since Pelger to post back-to-back triple-triple seasons. She is the third setter to have consecutive triple-triple seasons.

Brand finished the year with 1,188 assists, 320 digs and 133 kills. Brand also averaged 1.77 points, the second-highest clip among the nation’s top-30 in assists/set.  

Head coach Suzie Fritz ended her 15th year at the helm of K-State volleyball with her fifth straight winning season and 12th overall.

K-State’s winningest and longest-tenured coach has led the Wildcats to a top-four finish in the Big 12 eight times.

Fritz ended 2015 five wins from 300 as she is 295-168 in her overall career (158-122 in the Big 12).

K-State football preseason special debuts Sunday

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Kansas State fans will have numerous opportunities to preview the 2016 Wildcats before next Friday’s season opener, as FOX Sports Midwest and Cox Channel Kansas will air the Wildcats’ preseason kickoff special beginning Sunday.

The one-hour show will air on FOX Sports Midwest at 9 p.m. on Sunday and will then be replayed Monday (noon and 5:30 p.m.),  Tuesday (11 a.m. and 10:30 p.m.), Thursday (9:30 p.m.) and Friday (noon).

Cox Channel Kansas will air the preseason special six times next week, beginning at 10 p.m. on Monday, and continuing on Tuesday (1 p.m.; 10 p.m.), Wednesday (5:30 p.m.) and Thursday (2 p.m.; 10 p.m.).

The 2016 K-State Football Preseason Special is co-hosted by the “Voice of the Wildcats” Wyatt Thompson and head coach Bill Snyder, and includes an inside look at the Wildcat offense, defense and special teams as well as an analysis of the upcoming 2016 schedule and individual player features.

K-State begins the 2016 football season Friday, with a nationally-televised contest at No. 7 Stanford. The game, which kicks off at 8 p.m. (CT), will be aired on FS1.

Following a bye week in which Bill Snyder Family Stadium will host the Wildcat Kickoff music festival featuring Zac Brown Band and Train, the Wildcats open their home slate against Florida Atlantic at 1:30 p.m., on Sept. 17.

MHS takes 2nd in season opener

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Manhattan girls golf kicked its season off with a second-place finish at the Shawnee Heights Invitational on Thursday.

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Local Sports Roundup

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Local athlete on collegiate men’s soccer team Manhattan High alum Ben Turnley is a member of the Central College men’s soccer team this season.

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