Austin College will be celebrating the career achievements of a former member of the Kangaroo family this weekend at its annual Legends Gala on Sunday, when the school will present former Kansas State University head football coach Bill Snyder with the Coach Joe Spencer Award for Meritorious Service and Lifetime Achievement in Coaching.
Snyder will join such honorees as Donnie Duncan, Bob Mason, Duke Babb, Larry Kramer, and Ralph “Slats” McCord as Coach Joe Spencer Award recipients. The Coach Joe Spencer Award was established in 1997 by the Austin College Alumni Association to be given annually to alumni or former coaches of Austin College in honor of the late Joe Spencer. Spencer joined the Austin College football coaching staff in 1953 and served as head coach from 1955 to 1960.
Snyder came to Austin College in 1974 to serve as the offensive coordinator of the ’Roo football program and also served as the head coach of the school’s swimming and diving team until he left for the University of North Texas in 1976. Snyder, a 1963 graduate of William Jewell College with a masters from Eastern New Mexico, was named the head football coach at Kansas State in 1988, where he became one of the most legendary coaches in NCAA Division I history.
Snyder coached the Wildcats for 17 seasons, amassing a 136-68-1 record over that span including a 75-53-1 mark in Big 8 and Big 12 games. By the time he retired from coaching, he had nearly 100 more victories than any other coach in Kansas State history.
Under Snyder, the Kansas State football program went through what is generally considered one of the greatest turnarounds in college football history. Prior to his hire, Kansas State had won just 130 games in 51 seasons, including a 0-26-1 streak when he was brought on board.
Within his first three seasons the program jumped from a 1-10 record to a winning record of 7-4, and two years later the team began a streak of eight straight seasons of nine or more victories. In all, Snyder’s teams won more at least nine games in 10 different seasons, including seven seasons in which the Wildcats were in double-digits in the win column. From 1997 through 2003, the Wildcats won 11 games in six of seven seasons, becoming just the second program in history to accomplish that feat.
Snyder’s teams had four first-place finishes in conference, and over his final 13 seasons the Wildcats had the fifth-best overall record in Division 1-A, earning a berth to 11 bowl games over that span. Snyder was the 14th fastest coach to 100 wins in college football history, and his program produced 33 AP All-Americans and 42 National Football League Draft picks.
Individually, Snyder was named the national coach of the year in 1991, 1994, and 1998, and was named the conference coach of the year five times.
In conjunction with Snyder being honored with this lifetime achievement award, Austin College will also be inducting alumni Ronnie Roberson, Jim Rolfe, Amy Scull Skaggs, Bill Ucherek, and Charles “Ace” Wright into the school’s Athletic Hall of Honor, in addition to announcing Kim Randolph as the annual Kedric Couch Coach of the Year Award recipient.
Snyder will be speaking with the media prior to the Legends Gala on Sunday along with Austin College Vice President of Student Affairs and Athletics Tim Millerick as well as Donnie Duncan, the former Athletic Director at Oklahoma University and current Director of Football Championships for the Big Twelve Conference. The press conference is scheduled for 5:00 pm in the Wright Campus Center at Austin College.
Austin College athletic teams participate as a member of the NCAA Division III and the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.