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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

AD Kevin Saal ‘excited for what lies ahead’

Mia Hennen
Director of Athletics Kevin Saal shows “The Shocker Way” document, which the athletics department uses to achieve its mission, at a press confrence on Aug. 15. The Shocker Way outlines three components: core values, student athletic experience, and competitve excellence.

After his first year as athletic director at Wichita State, Kevin Saal is pleased with the amount of progress that has been made in the athletics department but understands that there is a lot of work to do ahead. 

Earlier this year, Wichita State Athletics announced its facility master plan which included the installed turf in the Bombardier Learjet Practice facility and a $1 million weight room renovation in Charles Koch Arena.

Saal said his approach to make decisions relies on the “Shocker Way,” a document that outlines three key tenets that for the athletic department: student athlete experience, competitive excellence and core values. 

“I think at times the ‘Shocker Way’ can sound like words on wall but truly it is the lens through which we make difficult decisions, through our core values, our student athlete experience and competitive excellence,” Saal said.

He said it was important to have competitive goals that help drive strategic goals. 

“Our mission is to develop young people and program through the Shocker Way,” Saal said. “We do that through first class service to our student athletes or coaches and Shocker Nation that drives everything we do.”

Over the past year, the athletic department has focused on “changing the culture” by trying to redefine the service framework within athletics but also at events.

“Our team has done an awesome job and culture and team building over the last year,” Saal said. 

Saal said the department is looking to implement 50 to 60 one year objectives that will drive the work this upcoming year.

The department began implementing daily wellness surveys to students athletes that will give the department some touch points for different service elements and has done deep audits and program evaluations with each of the head coaches. 

Saal reflected on his past year by addressing the amount of change that has happened in recent years. 

“I think that there’s been a lot of transition here in the last five or six years whether it’s presidential transition, political elements, basketball coach transition,” Saal said. 

He said it posed the question of “Who are we and what do we want to accomplish; what is the expectation?”

“We serve our student athletes in a first class way our coaches and Shocker nation and what are we trying to accomplish from an academic perspective, the community perspective and a competitive perspective,” Saal said. 

Saal said that at the end of the day they are in an industry that values production and results but knows that the production or results are hollow without core values. 

“I’m excited and energized and enthusiastic for what lies ahead,” Saal said.

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About the Contributors
Melanie Rivera-Cortez
Melanie Rivera-Cortez, Sports Editor
Mia Hennen
Mia Hennen, Editor in Chief
Mia Hennen is the current editor in chief for The Sunflower. Before becoming editor, Hennen was the news/managing editor. They are a junior at Wichita State majoring in English and minoring in communications and Spanish, hoping to pursue any career involving writing or editing.

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    David Payne JrAug 21, 2023 at 1:41 pm

    I strongly believe (1) Wichita State should be in the Big East or Atlantic Ten conference unless football returns. I would prefer membership in the Big East. Wichita Stste administrators are notoriously slow to reacting to progressive change and change for the better. I also believe (2) Wichita State needs a stronger non conference schedule and not just in basketball but in all sports. Playing Friends University and HBCU schools will not provide the university with self esteem. Start scheduling schools from the Big Ten, SEC, Big East and ACC and schedule these games regularly. Eliminate games from weakling schools and conferences. I am happy to discuss my thoughts further.