Update: 5:45 p.m.
In response to the report from Brett McMurphy earlier Thursday, Kansas State released the following statement:
“As has been the case and stated many times, Coach Snyder is our football coach and will remain coach until he decides otherwise.”
McMurphy spoke at length with KStateOnline.com about his report.
Original story: 12:20 p.m.
Kansas State reportedly had a plan in place for its next head football coach, but Bill Snyder put a stop to it.
It’s no secret that Snyder, now 78 years old and in his 26th season at KSU, wants his son Sean to succeed him as the Wildcats’ head coach. But KSU administrators were pursuing other arrangements, according to Brett McMurphy.
McMurphy reported Thursday that Jim Leavitt reached a “verbal agreement to become Kansas State’s head coach-in-waiting” in 2017 and then assume the head-coaching role full-time in 2018. But because Snyder wants Sean, the team’s associate head coach and special teams coordinator, to follow him as head coach, the arrangement fell through.
Leavitt, last year the defensive coordinator at Colorado, then went and accepted the DC role at Oregon. However, his contract at Oregon has a very specific clause relative to Kansas State.
Leavitt’s four-year deal pays him $1.15 million annually and has a pretty standard buyout clause. Per The Oregonian, if he’s fired without cause the school owes Leavitt his full salary. If he leaves his position before Jan. 31, 2018, he would owe the school $500,000. If he leaves after Jan. 31, 2018 but before Jan. 31, 2020, he’d owe $250,000.
However, if he opts to “voluntarily terminate this agreement to become the head football coach at Kansas State University,” Leavitt wouldn’t owe the school a cent.
McMurphy is reporting that Kansas State’s “top officials, including president Richard Myers, and the school’s highest-profile boosters” were “on board” with Leavitt succeeding Snyder. There were monetary arrangements and everything. But the man himself, Snyder, “pushed back on Leavitt” last December.
Snyder, a Kansas State legend, has a ton of influence at the school, some of which is written into his contract:
Snyder’s K-State contract stipulates when he’s done coaching at KSU he will be a “special assistant to the athletic director” and “shall also have appropriate input … regarding the selection of the next head football coach.”
Leavitt was an assistant at K-State under Snyder from 1990-1995 before he became the head coach at USF from 1996-2009. Leavitt’s time at USF ended under tumultuous circumstances. He was fired in January 2010 after being accused of mistreating a player and then lying to school officials about it. Leavitt has denied the allegations and sued the school, reaching a settlement in January 2011.
From there, Leavitt spent four seasons as a defensive assistant for the San Francisco 49ers under Jim Harbaugh. When Harbaugh left the NFL for Michigan, Leavitt returned to the college ranks as the defensive coordinator at Colorado. After two seasons with the Buffs, he joined Willie Taggart’s staff at Oregon.
Kansas State was labeled (us included) as an under the radar contender to win the Big 12, but the Wildcats have had a disappointing season. KSU dropped to 5-5 with a loss to West Virginia last week and needs to upset either No. 13 Oklahoma State or Iowa State to reach a bowl game.
John Currie, Kansas State’s athletic director since 2009, left the school to take the AD job at Tennessee in February. In April, KSU hired Iowa deputy AD Gene Taylor to replace Currie, who reportedly butted heads with Snyder in some instances.
While Currie hires the next coach at Tennessee, Taylor will be tasked with handling the Snyder exit plan. By the looks of things, it could turn into a complicated affair.
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