MANHATTAN, Kan. — The architect of Kansas State football as we know it is retiring after 27 seasons. Bill Snyder announced his retirement Sunday after amassing 215 wins and two Big 12 championships in two tenures at K-State.
The winningest coach in the history of K-State football, Snyder will transition to a special ambassador role for the University as stated in his current employment agreement.
The news comes after Snyder signed a new five-year contract in August that paid him more than $3 million annually. The Wildcats finished this season 5-7 after the media pegged them to finish in the middle of the Big 12 this preseason. They had a chance at bowl eligibility last Saturday, but saw a 17 point lead slip away in the fourth quarter in a loss at Iowa State.
“Coach Snyder has had an immeasurable impact on our football program, Kansas State University, the Manhattan community and the entire state of Kansas, and it has been an honor and a privilege to get to know and work with him the past two years,” said Athletics Director Gene Taylor. “He and his family have touched the lives of so many people, from student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans, and he is truly one of the greatest coaches and leaders in college football history. His impact on college football is unmatched and legacy is one that will last a lifetime.”
Snyder arrived in Manhattan in 1989 after he was an offensive coordinator at Iowa. He inherited arguably the worst program in college football that had back-to-back winless seasons in 1987 and 1988, and was the first program to reach 500 losses. He broke the winless skid in his first season, and then led the program on its most successful run in school history.
Between 1993 and 2000, K-State won at least nine games every season, and went to a bowl game every season between 1993 and 2003. In 1998, the Wildcats won its first 11 games and went into the Big 12 Championship Game with eyes on the BCS National Championship Game. They lost a heartbreaker in two overtimes to Texas A&M, and were snubbed by the BCS and sent to the Alamo Bowl. This led to the “Kansas State Rule” which mandated a team finishing in the top 3 automatically qualified for a BCS bowl.
“This university, this community and this state are deeply indebted to Coach Bill Snyder. Since arriving on campus in 1989, coach has delivered on all his promises — and more. He brought Kansas State University football to the national stage and built a program on the bedrock of integrity, honor and his famed 16 goals for success,” said Richard Myers, Kansas State University president.
In 2003 the Wildcats stunned the college football world when they knocked off the top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners in the Big 12 Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium, 35-7.
Snyder made his first departure from the program in 2005, turning it over to Ron Prince, and then returned in 2009 after Prince went 17-20 in three seasons and had only one bowl appearance.
His second tenure was highlighted by a run of eight consecutive bowl games between 2010 and 2017, and a second Big 12 Championship in 2012.
He was a conference coach of the year in the Big 8 and Big 12 on seven occasions and won numerous national “Coach of the Year” awards in 1998, 2011 and 2012. In 2015, he was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.
“He came here, and stayed here, because of the people. He made us a family — a proud purple family who travel in record numbers to watch him lead the Wildcats to victories, bowls and rankings never achieved before. Coach Snyder has always taken the time and care to turn his players into college graduates, community leaders, successful businessmen and leaders of strong families. Bill Snyder is a legend and his legacy is one that K-Staters for generations will value and cherish,” Myers said.