KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kansas State rewarded basketball coach Bruce Weber for winning a share of the school’s first conference championship in 36 years with a raise and a one-year contract extension on Wednesday.
Weber’s annual salary will increase by $250,000 to $1.75 million next season, and increase by $100,000 each of the remaining years on his original five-year deal. That means Weber will make $2.15 million for the 2017-18 season, the year that has been added to his contract.
“Whenever you have success, it is a direct reflection of your team and staff, and I have said all along we had great chemistry between our players and staff all year,” Weber said. “I’m so proud to be associated with this group of players and coaches and I can’t thank them enough.”
Weber, who was hired to replace Frank Martin, went 27-8 in his first season in Manhattan. More important, he went 14-4 in the Big 12 and tied rival Kansas for a share of the championship. The fourth-seeded Wildcats were upset by No. 13 seed La Salle in the NCAA tournament.
“Our men’s basketball program, from top to bottom, has made continued improvement under Coach Weber and his staff since their arrival last April,” said Currie, who moved quickly last March to hire Weber once he was fired from Illinois and Martin left for South Carolina. “I am extremely excited about the forward trajectory of our program under his leadership.”
Weber, The AP’s Big 12 coach of the year, inherited a program that returned most of its key players from an NCAA tournament team. He’ll return several key players next season, too, though he’ll lose top scorer Rodney McGruder and fellow seniors Jordan Henriquez and Martavious Irving.
The Wildcats already have signed three players for next season: point guard Jevon Thomas from Delafield, Wis.; small forward Wesley Iwundu from Houston; and shooting guard Marcus Foster from Wichita Falls, Texas. They also have a commitment from center Neville Fincher of Chatham, Va.
“We’re all pleased with the success of our season, but not satisfied by how it ended,” Weber said. “Changing that outcome starts this summer with our player development and our recruiting.”
The Wildcats’ 27 wins last season were the second-most in school history, and their 14 league wins matched the record set by the 1958-59 team. Their conference title was the 20th overall for the school, but the first for KansasStatesince the 1977 team.
For all the success, though, the season ended in bitter disappointment.
The Wildcats earned the fourth seed in the West Regional for the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, and with it the chance to play just two hours from campus at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. But they played a miserable first half against La Salle, and a second-half charge came up just short. Having the final possession with under 10 seconds remaining, sophomore guard Angel Rodriguez’s floater at the buzzer missed everything in a 63-61 defeat.
Rodriguez will be back next season, along with guards Shane Southwell and Will Spradling, forward Thomas Gipson and several other players. Sophomore forward Adrian Diaz recently announced he was transferring, so he could play closer to his home in Miami.
“We’re all excited about the direction of the program,” Rodriguez said. “We know that we’re losing some really good players to graduation, but we know that with all the players coming back — plus the new recruits coming in — we are capable of doing great things next season and beyond.”