Williams Fund boss Matt Baty instructs KU donors on how not to be 'part of the problem'
Before you decide for or against donating to the Kansas Athletics capital campaign designed at raising $350 million, all but about $50 million for football stadium renovations, give a listen to this podcast, starting at about the 33-minute mark.
Matt Baty, senior associate athletics director in charge of fundraising for Kansas Athletics, is working very hard to make it happen, so at least show him the courtesy of listening to what he has to say on Episode 1 of the “KU Sport Management,” podcast, recorded shortly after the conclusion of the 1-11 2017 football season.
Baty points out to the host that Kansas has had 15 football coaches in the past 65 years and just two had winning records.
Some highlights of Baty’s candid interview:
“Average tenure was four years. Four years!” Baty said. “At what point do we put our stake in the ground as a fan base, as a donor base, as an administration, as campus administrators, do we put our foot in the ground and say no more?”
The athletic department’s answer is at the point that their football coach has the worst record (3-33) in program history.
“We have conference realignment coming up,” Baty cautioned. “We have to show that we care about football. We have to show that we have the resources. We have to show that we have the winning product on the field.”
The need to show they have the resources led to the capital campaign. The solution to showing they have a winning record on the field? Retaining a football coach with a 3-33 record because evidently, longevity is the key component that determines a football coach’s success. No wonder Eddie Robinson and Bud Wilkinson, Bear Bryant and Bob Stoops, were such good football coaches. Their schools allowed them to keep their jobs for so long. And all this time I thought it was because they were great judges of talent, superior motivators of men, smart tacticians.
Great professors aren’t great because they know how to communicate their knowledge in compelling fashion, inspiring their students to find out more about the subject. Nope. It’s because they have tenure.
Baty was just getting warmed up.
“This may step on some people’s toes, but I’m dealing in reality, right? This administration sucked at football. The last administration sucked at football. For 65 years, every administration sucked at football,” Baty said.
Well, not really. For one thing, Al Bohl hired Mark Mangino. But close enough.
“But this is the administration to change it. I truly believe that. We’re here to change that,” he said.
Baty explains how: “We hired David Beaty and we knew this was going to be a five-year process, a five-year plan. We beat Texas last year and that kind of sped up a lot of people’s minds. And I get it, it’s all about wins and losses and again it’s not about effort, it’s about performance. And I get that. But we knew going in with our scholarship situation where we're at it’s going to be a five-year plan. We’re getting a lot of heat: ‘Fire David Beaty. Fire David Beaty. Why are we keeping him? He’s lost.’ Well, if we wanted to be status quo — my status quo is the 65 years — yeah, we would fire David Beaty. But we’re putting a stake in the ground and we’re not doing what we’ve done and constantly done year after year after year. That’s what we’ve done. We’ve fired coaches. Average tenure’s four years. We’ve done that. We’ve been there.”
This logic, of course, presupposes that the problem isn’t hiring the wrong coach, it’s just firing coaches too quickly.
“Now let’s compare that to men’s basketball,” Baty said. “Men’s basketball, how many coaches have we had, do you know? Eight. Eight coaches in the history of Kansas basketball. There is something to be said about consistency and stability and that’s where we’re at right now.”
So if Bob Valesente had been allowed to keep his job longer he would have turned into Knute Rockne in no time.
Then Baty slipped into if-you’re-not-with-us-you’re-against-us mode, always a dangerous path to take, especially so when the football team is 5-61 vs. FBS competition the past six years.
“When we’re out talking to donors my mission is very simple: ‘Do you want to be part of the problem or do you want to be part of the solution?’ If you want to be part of the problem in the last 65 years, then we fire David Beaty," Baty said. "If you want to be part of the problem, don’t come to the games. If you want to be a part of the problem, don’t give to Raise The Chant, the capital campaign. Don’t support this. Talk negatively about them. But if you want to be part of the solution, buy season tickets. As challenging as that is right now, buy season tickets. Go buy a single-game ticket. Bring your kids out to the hill and have a birthday party, if you want to be a part of the solution. If you want to be a part of the solution, donate to the stadium because we together can change this.”
And if you decide not to subject yourself or your loved ones to watching a team that has lost more than 90 percent of its games the past three seasons you’re part of the problem.
Don’t feel bad. So am I. Maybe we should issue a joint apology.
“You know the naysayers that are in the local papers and the national papers and things, all they are is part of the problem,” Baty said. “They’re not part of the solution. You know, we’re getting beat up in our local paper. Our local paper’s beating us up and they’re wondering why we can’t recruit and do these things. Well, we are recruiting, we’re proving that. Well, are they being part of the problem or part of the solution? To me they’re being part of the problem.”
Enough writing for now. I have something more important on my plate: I must find the North Korean “journalist” who wrote the story about the late dictator’s first round of golf, the one in which he shot a 34 and had five aces, to see if he would be interested in covering KU football for us. He could become part of the solution.