Kansas State wants athletics director Gene Taylor in charge for the long term so much that the university is giving him a 32% pay raise.
Taylor, who has been K-State’s AD since April 2017, agreed to a contract extension through the 2026-27 academic year. K-State president Richard Myers and the Kansas State Athletics, Inc., Board of Directors announced the extension Wednesday.
The agreement extends Taylor’s contract through June 30, 2027, with an annual salary of $925,000 beginning in the 2021-22 academic year. That will remain the annual salary through the end of the contract.
It marks a large increase from his previous contract, when Taylor was scheduled to earn $700,000 starting in 2021-22. The contract signed by Taylor in 2017 would have ended in June 30, 2022.
This fiscal year, Taylor originally was slated to make $650,000, but he took a 10% pay cut — as did all athletics department employees with annual salaries of $150,000 or more — last year to help K-State Athletics save money amid the coronavirus pandemic. Taylor’s reduced salary for 2020-21 was $585,000.
The contract extension also includes performance and retention incentives. His performance bonus is tied to teams’ success and capped at $75,000 each year.
Taylor’s contract also calls for the university to pay for his $250,000 life insurance policy.
If he stays at K-State through June 2022, he gets a lump sum of $250,000.
During 2019-20, Taylor received the lowest total compensation out of the ADs in the Big 12 at $650,000. His next closest contemporary, Shane Lyons of West Virginia, made $870,000.
Out of the Power 5 conferences subject to the Freedom of Information Act, only David Colburn, Florida State’s AD, made less money than Taylor.
“Gene Taylor has been a steady guiding force during a challenging time for Kansas State Athletics,” Myers said in a written statement. “The trajectory of our programs is moving in the right direction and he has demonstrated the ability to manage the budget with integrity under extraordinary circumstances. We see a bright future for K-State under his leadership.”
During Taylor’s time at K-State, the football team has earned three bowl berths, the men’s basketball team has won a Big 12 regular-season title and made an Elite Eight appearance and the women’s track and field team has captured consecutive Big 12 Outdoor championships.
On the fundraising side, Taylor and his staff have implemented a facility master plan, which includes the recently completed baseball and soccer projects. A $105 million, ongoing initiative includes work on the South End Zone of Bill Snyder Family Stadium, and plans for a new volleyball arena, an Olympic training center and a football indoor practice facility.
“Our family is extremely fortunate to call K-State and Manhattan home,” Taylor said. “I appreciate President Myers, the KSA Board and the Kansas Board of Regents for their trust in me continuing to lead such a phenomenal athletics program. We have the best fans and donors in the country and a group of coaches, staff and student-athletes who are committed to competing at the highest level, and I am looking forward to the years ahead as we continue to elevate our program.”
K-State Athletics has continued to be financially self-sufficient; it does not receive support from the university. In FY 2019, a year earlier than anticipated, the program ended the practice of receiving student privilege fees in support of the program, making it one of just eight athletics departments across the country that operates with no direct or indirect university and student funding or state support.
Fans and donors contributed $44.4 million to K-State Athletics in FY 2019, the second-highest total in history and only the second time it ever has eclipsed the $40 million barrier.
Despite budget cuts that came as a result of the financial shortfall of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, K-State did not eliminate any positions in its athletics department.
Since taking over, Taylor has hired three head coaches: Chris Klieman (football), Pete Hughes (baseball) and Jordan Smith (women’s tennis).
Klieman replaced Hall of Fame head coach Bill Snyder, with the Wildcats qualifying for bowls each of the last two years, though it chose not to accept a bid last year. K-State has knocked off top-five Oklahoma squads in 2019 and 2020, with last year’s upset of the then-No. 3 Sooners marking the first time in K-State history it had beaten an Associated Press top-five foe on the road. Klieman won eight games in his debut campaign in 2019, setting a program record for a first-year head coach.
Hughes led the Wildcats to the Big 12 tournament in his first season in 2019, while Smith helped the tennis program post winning records in each of his first two seasons.