MANHATTAN, Kan. — New Kansas State coach Ron Prince acknowledged the significance of his hiring but said he hoped to be remembered for his achievements.
“People ask what it’s like to be a black coach. I’ve never been any other kind,” Prince said at a news conference Monday. “I’m completely aware of the significance of this right now, but hopefully, someday, it won’t be significant. Hopefully, the only color they’ll be talking about from this day forward is purple.”
Prince, 36, was named Sunday to follow Bill Snyder’s successful 17-year-run in Manhattan after spending the past five years at Virginia, including the last three as offensive coordinator.
“I started thinking about this job when I was 3 or 4,” said Prince, who grew up just 20 miles away in Junction City. “This was something that had obviously been on my mind a long time, but I didn’t think this would happen this year, this soon.”
Prince becomes Kansas State’s first black head coach, the Big 12 Conference’s only black head coach and the fourth active black coach in NCAA Division I-A — joining UCLA’s Karl Dorrell, Washington’s Tyrone Willingham and Mississippi State’s Sylvester Croom.
Although Prince grew up close by, his hiring surprised those who had expected someone with ties to Kansas State’s program to be selected. The closest Prince got to being associated with Kansas State was an unofficial visit in 1989, when Snyder earned his first head coaching victory against North Texas.
Snyder, who had not met Prince before the coaching search started, said he was impressed by the young coach’s values.
“What I’ve seen is a man of humility, a man who has a mission, a man who is caring, someone who genuinely believes in the good in people, in young people,” Snyder said. “He’s someone who has a plan, a gentleman who truly understands the values this program has embodied the last 17 years.”
Prince’s vision for the Wildcats is of a return to the national-powerhouse status they enjoyed for much of Snyder’s tenure, before falling to losing records in each of the past two seasons.
Prince, who said he would begin announcing his staff in a few days, met with Kansas State’s players before Monday’s news conference.