Kansas State Director of Athletics John Currie has been selected as one of this year's Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal Forty Under 40 Awards recipients announced by the publication today. The 40-person group will receive their awards in Miami during a black-tie ceremony at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami on March 31.
The Forty Under 40 Awards program was initiated in 1999 to identify and honor the most promising young executives in sports business under the age of 40. Winners are selected by a committee of SportsBusiness Journal/Daily editors and writers.
"Our Forty Under 40 program recognizes the very best young talent from all the different segments of the sports industry, from teams and leagues, to agencies and media, to sponsors and partners," said SportsBusiness Journal/Daily Publisher Richard Weiss. "This year's class is another outstanding group of young men and women who are at the top of their game and who wield enormous influence in sports."
Currie, one of just two intercollegiate athletics directors in the 40-person class, has hit the ground running in his first 20 months as Kansas State's Director of Athletics. With an emphasis on student-athlete welfare, the best fan experience in the Big 12 and fiscal transparency and accountability, Currie has taken a big step in regaining the trust of Wildcat fans nationwide and providing K-State student-athletes and supporters a world-class experience.
"This award reflects the increasing prominence of K-State's position in the intercollegiate sports world," said Currie. "Mary Lawrence and I are fortunate to be a part of the K-State family and honored to be recognized amongst many outstanding sports professionals."
Under Currie's leadership, K-State Athletics has enjoyed tremendous success not only on the field and in the classroom, but Wildcat fans have also stepped up through participation in the newly-launched Ahearn Fund and by attending Wildcat sporting events.
Kansas State currently holds the No. 1 all-sports graduation rate in the Big 12, an honor it has staked claim to in each of the past four years, and also is one of just two Big 12 schools and 14 nationally to have its football team in a bowl game and both basketball teams in the NCAA Tournament this season. Attendance has steadily increased over the past 20 months at Wildcat games as new season and single-game records were set in 2009 and 2010 for football, volleyball, men's basketball, women's basketball and baseball.
To help encourage support for the student-athlete experience and championship pursuits, K-State's fundraising efforts were completely overhauled last year with a new emphasis on personal interaction and communication for Ahearn Fund donors of all levels. K-State supporters responded by increasing total annual fund cash gifts in Currie's first year by over 50% versus the previous year to an all-time high of $14.47 million allowing the department to enhance a number of athletic facilities including breaking ground on a new $17 million Basketball Training Facility.
Revenue growth, along with new measures promoting efficiency and cost containment, also enabled Currie and his staff to restore fiscal integrity to the department in his first year and achieve a balanced budget.
"Since John joined the K-State family, he has been a tremendous partner," K-State President Kirk Schulz said. "Under his leadership our student-athletes have continued to excel both on the field and in the classroom. The athletics department has made great strides in regards to student-athlete development, fiscal accountability and transparency and fan experience. John is very deserving of such an honor and we are excited about the future of K-State Athletics under his guidance."
The winners of the Forty Under 40 Awards were chosen from hundreds of nominees and were cited for specific achievement in the sports industry, including demonstrations of innovation, entrepreneurialism, leadership and influence.