Jeff Mittie introduced as K-State women’s basketball coach

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State Director of Athletics John Currie formally introduced the ninth head coach of K-State women’s basketball Jeff Mittie to the media and Wildcat fans on Tuesday afternoon in the Club Level of the West Stadium Center. The following is a transcript of the news conference.

K-State Athletic Director John Currie
Opening Statement…
“Good afternoon and welcome to K-State. As we began our quest to find the next coach at K-State, we did so as K-State services, under the framework of the K-State pledge, and our vision of a modern intercollegiate athletics program with our five goals of a world-class student-athlete experience, values of our university, community, and state, integrity and transparency in regard to our athletes following NCAA compliance, championship athletic performances, and the best fan experience in the Big 12 Conference. We were very pleased with the interest in our position and the national respect for K-State Women’s Basketball. As we talked about before, we have a tremendous championship tradition—currently ranking 15th all-time in NCAA Division I wins with 853, which is second among Big 12 schools. We have a strong operating and recruiting budget, our facilities are among the nation’s best with our beautiful Basketball Training Facility which is just not an equitable facility, but it is an equal facility for both women and men student-athletes. We have traditionally strong fan support, ranking in the top-35 in attendance each of our last six seasons—and again I want to thank the fans that are here today. While I am thanking folks, I want to thank Jill Shields, Dr. Be Stoney, and Clint Dowdle, who comprised the search committee, they all have tremendous experience in basketball—specifically women’s basketball for Dr. Stoney and Jill (Shields), they were valuable in this process. I want to recognize all of our staff who participated in their assistance and support—including our operations and facility staff for putting this event together today. Daniel Parker and Laurie Wilder from Parker Executive Search did a great job for us in accelerating the pace of this process. As an institution we know that we are accelerating towards the K-State 2025 mission of ranking among America’s top-50 public research universities. Again, I want to say what a privilege and pleasure it is to work with the leadership of our President Kirk Schulz.

In a few moments I’ll ask Dr. Noel Schulz, the servicing Dean of Engineering, to come forward with a purple coat for Coach Mittie. We are thrilled to recognize Coach Mittie and his family—Shanna, Logan, Madison, and Jordan to the K-State family. We believe that Coach Mittie epitomizes our commitment to those five K-State goals and our vision. He is a proven winner. His 22 seasons as a head coach featured nine conference championships in four different leagues, 454 total wins, and 15 postseason appearances with a 16th to come next year. He is a five-time coach of the year in those conferences and he has great Midwest roots as a Blue Springs native, and of course his wife Shanna is a Junction City native and a Chapman High School graduate. He comes highly recommended by coaches and administrators throughout college basketball. He is a person of great integrity with a strong demonstrated commitment to the academic success of his student-athletes.”

K-State Women’s Basketball Head Coach Jeff Mittie
Opening statement…
“I appreciate Athletic Director (John) Currie. I appreciate President (Kirk) Schulz. Noel reached out to my wife, and Kirk reached out to my wife. The entire search committee was fantastic in the process of coming here. It feels like I have been here already since I have been here a week now and got to work. It is exciting to be here. It is one of the things that drew Shanna (Mittie) and I to have interest in this position was getting back to this area of the country at a fine institution like Kansas State University. We just feel like there are so many things to do here. This fits our family very well. I felt like, from watching from afar and scouting the young ladies that play here, this was a basketball team that I would really enjoy coaching and really enjoy teaching. I love to teach. I love to get on the floor. We got the group on the floor yesterday. That was the most fun of the process. It was great to get them out there, great to start working on basketball, and great to see them come back from spring break excited about this next challenge that we have. It is going to be a challenge. I appreciate the postseason shout out for next year. That is absolutely the goal, and I would not have it any other way. That is why I am here. I want to walk out there where 8,000 people, 10,000 people care about Kansas State women’s basketball. That is important to me and that has happened here before, and we are going to get people excited about this team next year. I have a good idea of what I want to do with this team already because of coming from the league. I already have a good idea where I see this team is going and the direction that we are going to go forward. I am excited about it. My wife and kids were up here last week. They were amazed at the Manhattan hospitality. If I had a nickel for every time someone said, ‘Welcome to Manhattan Coach,’ I would have a lot of nickels. We went out to grab a bite to eat before we flew back and the hospitality was amazing. They talk about family, and you can feel how genuine it is. Our family sensed that from the start through the process. We certainly sensed it walking around Manhattan. Many people hollered at us and welcomed us, and we are excited to be here.”

On reasons for coming to K-State from another team in the conference…
“From a standpoint of historically the tradition of this basketball program, and Athletic Director Currie talked about it, being the 15th winningest program in women’s basketball. It is a place with tremendous passion for women’s basketball and those are unique across the country. There are not too many of those so that was a unique situation. As I researched it, I was very impressed with vision 2025. That is something that I think is very important as I go out and recruit the young ladies that we want to play basketball for Kansas State. The fact that watching the team from the outside, I felt like it was a close basketball team. I felt like it was a team that fit my personality, and that is from the outside looking in. You try to look at those things. I liked the young players in the program, and I liked the veterans in the program so I feel like we can do things quickly. I did not come here to rebuild and have it be a long process. All those things tied in. We talked about the family things and coming back home. That was a factor as well, but also that I want to get to the Final Four and win championships. I think the commitment is here to do those things. It takes everybody to do those things. It takes the fans. We are going to have to have you guys because when I go talk to recruits, they want to play in those types of environments and those are unique. It is going to take all of us to get it done.”

On being able to coach at a school close to home…
“It is a factor in that it is unique that there is a place close enough to do those things and accomplish your career goals at a place that you feel strongly about and tugs at you when you drive through. My wife really is excited about being back in the area. My father and brother are here today at the press conference. I have seen them more in the last two weeks than I have seen them in the last three, four months. Those things are real exciting and it was certainly a factor.”

On the challenges that he sees…
“At TCU we were coming from the Mountain West to the Big 12. I had my youngest team a year ago. Kansas State was the youngest team in the Big 12 last year. I see the growth of this basketball team occurring very quickly. There are some similarities there. It is a tough basketball league. It is a great basketball league. This is a great part of the country that appreciates great basketball, both men’s and women’s. So those things are very exciting. I have already been out on the road recruiting. That is a big part of it right now being in a contact period. There is a lot of excitement across the state of Kansas. I expect that to help us in recruiting. There is some great talent across the state and I think they are excited about what we can do at Kansas State.”

On regions to target in recruiting…
“We’re going to be national. I don’t see any reason why any player across the country – or across the world – wouldn’t want to come to Kansas State. There is no excuse when you walk into that Basketball Training Facility. I’ve been in a bunch of them, but I had not been in that facility prior to accepting the job here, so I was excited to go into that facility. We’re going to recruit across the country, but I think you have to start inside out. I think you have to start with the state of Kansas, and then go outwards. Certainly, the area of Chicago – I have good contacts in Chicago, and I have good contacts in Milwaukee. Those areas are going to be strong as well. We’ll recruit anywhere and everywhere. I think you can build rosters a lot of different ways. We’re going to be looking at every avenue to build this roster.”

About recruiting connections in Texas…
“Texas is always a big part of the recruiting process. You have a lot of players that come out of the Texas area. There are a ton of [high schools in Texas] that are recruited. It’s obviously in the Big 12 footprint. There’s no doubt I’m going to utilize all those recruiting contacts that we have. Texas is going to be a big part of our recruiting here [at Kansas State]. It’s going to be the state of Kansas, Kansas City and Texas – those are going to be some big [recruiting] areas for us.”

On assembling the new coaching staff at K-State…
“Part of my [TCU] staff could come here, although those decisions have not been made yet. I expect to clear that up in the next week to 10 days. My associate head coach at TCU [and current interim head coach Brian Ostermann] is a potential candidate for the [head coach] job at TCU. That is slowing the process a little bit here with us. I think that process will clear up in the next 7 to 10 days.”

On who he will retain from the former coaching staff…
“Claire Coggins will be retained, and Tasha Dickey will be retained. I reached out to Shalee Lehning, and I talked to Shalee [about being retained]. That was one of my first phone calls; I recruited Shalee. I know how important she is to Kansas State women’s basketball. Shalee feels like she is going to go and maybe do some different things. We had a good conversation. I told her to come back any time. I loved the way [Shalee] played the game. I got to know her a little bit on the sidelines coaching at events. I’ll build a staff, hopefully, in the next 7 to 10 days.”

On current priorities at K-State…
“Priorities right now are the [current K-State women’s basketball team], who are the number one priority. Our number two priority is recruiting some players to potentially add to that group, and then the number three priority is putting together a staff for those young ladies.”

On what student-athletes he would like to add right away to the K-State roster…
“I would like to get a little better size. I think we need some more depth along with size. I think [size] is a concern for every coach in the Big 12. It is such a physical league, and you must have depth across the front line. I think we have to get a little better depth in every area, though, because one thing that can impact a season is foul trouble and injuries – and we got some young ladies bouncing back from injuries right now. I would like to just improve our depth here in the spring. We may sign a player or two to do that. I’ll tell you what, though: I sure like the way our group worked [on Monday] in our workouts. We did the radio show [interview], and you could probably tell I was ready to get on the basketball floor and go get that team out there. We had a good hour workout [on Monday], two 30-minute segments, and I was very pleased with that group.”

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