The Future of Coach Wooldridge

The direction of the Basketball team has again reared its ugly head and some have brought into question the future of Coach Wooldridge at Kansas State.

"Tim and I are on the same page," said the 49-year-old Wooldridge, who owns a 64-71 overall record and 23-49 Big 12 mark record heading into the final four weeks of his fifth season. "We want what's best for the program and the people who support it. We're very much on the same page in terms of expectations, improvement and success."

Weiser declined to be specific, but said that exact numbers in terms of Big 12 wins, a standing placement, graduation rates, NCAA compliance and attendance figures were agreed upon last March when Wooldridge had his contract extended two seasons through 2006-2007.

"There are no surprises as to what Jim and I want to see and expect to see happen this year," Weiser said. "We have agreed on what we both consider appropriate expectations, but those numbers that we agreed to are between coach and I."

As with last year, Weiser is firm in his commitment that this season be played out before a final assessment is put on Wooldridge's fifth year, and more importantly, defining the direction of the program.

"It's not fair to make any kind of judgment when the season is not finished," Weiser said. "Jim and I share an intense desire to make this year the best he's had. We're only half way through it, so it's not fair for me to draw a conclusion to how he's done at this time."

It is the nature of the business that while Wooldridge's stock dropped with the mediocre showing against Colorado, it could have soared with a win over Kansas. The recent continued string of losses against Kansas is one issue that many point to as the litmus to the general direction of the program.

In Wooldridge's first four seasons, his win counts have been 11, 13, 13 and 14, which includes 4, 6, 4 and 6 wins in the Big 12. The respective finishes in the Big 12 standings have been 10th, 7th, 11th and 9th.

At 13-6 with at least nine games remaining, it's almost assured that Wooldridge will have his winningest season, which was aided by an ultra-weak non-conference season.

But in a Big 12 year most consider not as talented, especially in the North Division, a strong finish is now needed to better previous league standings.

While there have been disappointing losses this year in Big 12 play, Weiser gives an "... absolutely there have been some high points."

He explained, "I think the talent level is clearly at the highest level since Jim has been here, so there are things we can point to that suggest we're improving."

But he adds, "Because of the investment we have made in the program, and with coach Wooldridge and his staff, there are expectations that go beyond moral victories."

Weiser calls Wooldridge a "good fit" within the program and fans, and said that his coach was "easy to communicate with."

But on the flip side, he's heard communication from the Wildcat faithful.

While Wooldridge has enjoyed a popularity, Weiser said, "Our fans do not hesitate to express their likes and dislikes."

One of the biggest expressions delivered by the fans is the fact that the home attendance through 14 home dates is below 7,000, which ranks 10th in the league and is 300-plus under last year's average.

Upcoming home games with Oklahoma, Baylor and Nebraska, however, could boost that average to a figure that would come close to last year's.

"We have relied on football and they have provided strong enough shoulders to lean on, but we have to diversify with where our revenues come from," Weiser said in reference to the sliding attendance in recent years.

What Weiser wants is for Kansas State basketball to retrieve its tradition of 30, 40 and 50 years ago.

He heard the words of Bob Boozer during Saturday's jersey retirement ceremony when the former all-American said, "We played to win."

What Weiser wants to see is that same burning desire to win, and hatred of defeat.

That could mean another coach, but preferably, it would be with Wooldridge.

"The one statement I have been consistent in making is if I never do another coaching search again, it would be great," Weiser said. "I don't like making coaching changes. It's a hope that's not where I find myself in any of our sports."

But to that, he adds, "I cannot think of a more important responsibility than making coaching decisions, and especially in a sport like we're talking about because of the financial ramification."

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