Mar. 19—The Kansas Board of Regents now requires its own board chair and president to decide whether a school can change athletic conferences.
During the Regents' monthly meeting Wednesday, board general counsel Julene Miller said the proposed policy would require the board chair and president/CEO, rather than the entire board, to approve any requests from a university, to "address concerns about a potential need to move swiftly in some circumstances and also with confidentiality."
The board, which governs the state university system, passed the measure unanimously. Regents members learned more about the potential consequences of a change to a university's athletic conference from observing Wichita State University's recent shift to the American Athletic Conference after spending 72 years in the Missouri Valley Conference.
A decade ago, major conferences in the NCAA started extensive realignment changes.
K-State and Kansas remained in the Big 12, but the conference lost Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and Texas A&M. It added Texas Christian University and West Virgina, leaving the conference with two fewer teams.
The new policy states in part that a university CEO would be able to make a recommendation to the Board of Regents "upon full consideration of all relevant factors, including student competition in intercollegiate sports appropriate to the institution, fiscal resources available, and sound standards of student academic performance."
K-State tearing down storage sheds
In other business, board members gave Kansas State University approval to tear down a pair of storage sheds on the north end of the Manhattan campus, to make way for one new building.
K-State can now move forward with a plan to demolish the buildings on the agronomy farm north of Kimball Avenue to create space for a new building. The plan also includes a new access road recommended as a result of a traffic improvement study conducted by the city of Manhattan in 2014.
The two buildings are a storage shed at 2209 Agronomy Field Road, which was built in 2009, and a farm storage building at 2305 Agronomy Central Road, built in 1981. Tearing these buildings down will result in a change of access to the north Agronomy farm from Kimball Avenue to College Ave.
The two storage sheds do not have heat or air-conditioning units fitted, nor do they have plumbing installed. The university currently stores equipment used for Agronomy Department research in the sheds, and the intention is to replace the pair of buildings with one new 5,800 square-foot facility.
The current sheds are in good to fair condition, yet university officials said they require some extra maintenance because of the age of the buildings. Officials said a brand-new main storage facility will alleviate the issue. K-State officials will submit a request to the Board of Regents for approval to construct the new buildings once the planning and design process is completed.
According to a memo prepared for the Regents' meeting, the cost to raze the two buildings, along with the replacement value and the new access road, will be financed through the city of Manhattan's road improvement projects fund. A dollar amount was not listed in the memo.
The university is developing a memorandum of understanding — a document indicating intent for development between two parties — for reduced access from Kimball Avenue to university property. The Board of Regents stated an expectation for that document to be submitted in April, with the road improvement project to be awarded in August, and the buildings fully demolished by October of this year.
Also during the meeting, the board approved a request from K-State and the University of Kansas to extend the suspension of the Regents' tuition payment policy.
According to the policy, students can't enroll in a semester if they still owe money from previous semesters. Suspending the policy means students experiencing financial troubles because of the pandemic may continue their studies.
The suspension started in the summer 2020 semester.
The extension means the policy suspension will last through fall 2021.