A career that has covered five different decades, the last 23 years at Emporia State, will be coming to an end on July 1, 2022 when Kent Weiser retires as the Director of Athletics at Emporia State University.
“It has been an honor to serve as Director of Athletics for Emporia State the past 23 years,” said Weiser. “I have high expectations of myself, knowing that being successful in this position requires one to expend a great deal of mental and physical energy every day. I have been honest with myself about how long I can perform these duties at the level I personally expect, and feel it is best for the Department and our programs to turn the leadership over to someone with fresh ideas and new energy.”
August 8, 1999 was Kent Weiser’s first day on the job at Emporia State. Since that day the Hornets have consistently competed at the national level in NCAA Division II on the field, in the classroom and in the stands.
The Hornets have won 25 MIAA regular season team championships and 18 tournament championships under Weiser's leadership. Every Hornet program has made an appearance in the NCAA Championships on his watch with a total of 126 national placements, 11 top eight finishes, six top four finishes, four championship game appearances and the 2010 women's basketball national championship. ESU teams have finished in the top 20 of Division II in 11 different sports under Weiser's leadership.
“I cannot say enough about the great coaches that I’ve had the opportunity to work with throughout my time at ESU. They have built, and continue to build, championship programs through dedication and hard work,” said Weiser. “I appreciate all of them and am grateful for the positive impact they have made on my life.”
Emporia State has ranked in the top half of over 300 NCAA Division II schools in every one of Weiser's 22 years, with seven top 50 finishes, three top 25 places and an MIAA best 11th place finish in the 2007-08 Director's Cup Standings.
Off the field Emporia State student-athletes have enjoyed tremendous success in the classroom and in the community. Hornets from nine different programs have been named Academic All-American 34 times during Weiser’s tenure with every team having at least one Academic All-District performer. Emporia State has had a department wide GPA of over 3.00 for the last 26 straight semesters.
Emporia State student-athletes earned the NCAA Team Works Community Service Competition Award for Division II for 2021 and were in first place in the MIAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Cup Standings after the first semester of this year. The Team Works Community Service Competition Award is based on the number of service hours completed and the number of participating student-athletes. The MIAA SAAC Cup is an annual competition between MIAA institution SAACs with points achieved through Make-A-Wish participation, MIAA SAAC meetings, campus SAAC meetings, completion of NCAA legislative grids and participation in community service and engagement groups.
“The student-athletes I’ve had a chance to work with at Emporia State have been tremendous,” said Weiser. “They have been an inspiration to me.”
The athletic and academic success has combined to place every Hornet program in the top 25 in national attendance at some point during Weiser's 23-year tenure.
Weiser has spearheaded many physical changes to Emporia State’s athletic facilities over the years. The past year has seen several capital improvements highlighted by the indoor/outdoor Kossover Family Tennis Complex and renovations to the basketball and volleyball practice facilities. They join the renovations of the ESU Soccer Pitch including a scoreboard, semi-permanent seating areas and a fence around the soccer complex, Jones Field Turf at Welch Stadium, the Golden Oval of Witten Track, the Dennis Shogren Family Videoboard, the Robertson Renovation of the Hornet football locker room, the ESU Athletics Weight Room, Hanna Baseball/Softball Clubhouse, the artificial turf for both baseball and softball along with the Preston Family Scoreboards at the Trusler Sports Complex, and a new scoreboard and videoboard at White Auditorium as projects completed under his watch with 100 percent of the funding coming from private donors. These improvements have helped maintain those facilities as some of the best in the nation at the Division II level.
Throughout his career, Weiser has been aware of the importance of diversity in athletics and the world. Just six months into his position at Emporia State, he applied for and was granted an NCAA Strategic Alliance Matching Grant. This NCAA grant program was established to provide more opportunities in athletics administration for women and minorities. The next year he spearheaded the effort to add women's soccer as a varsity sport.
He was a member of the NCAA Inclusion Advisory Group. The mission of the group was to study issues related to diversity and inclusion, and to make recommendations on D-II initiatives that would enhance the division's diversity.
In 2014 Weiser was awarded the Emporia State Presidential Award for Distinguished Service to Diversity. The annual award recognizes those at Emporia State who demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion. On a more personal level, in the fall of 2020 he led a series of discussions with Emporia State student-athletes following the summer of social unrest in the country.
He has been active in leadership positions at the conference and national level. Weiser is the past chair of the MIAA Institutional Representatives Committee and a former member of the NCAA Division II National Football Committee.
“As an ESU alum and former student athlete – I have watched Kent lead the department over the years. I know that his commitment to student-athletes has always been at the forefront of all he has done in Athletics during his tenure here at ESU,” said Emporia State University Interim President Ken Hush.
Weiser has worked under four presidents and three interims during his 23 years at Emporia State.
“I have had a chance to work with some of the best Presidents and Athletics Administrators in the country, and I appreciate all the support and leadership they have provided to Emporia State Athletics, and to me,” said Weiser. “Special thanks to Kay Schallenkamp, the President who hired me in 1999, and to current President Ken Hush, for helping me during the transitional periods of my professional career.”
A native of Great Bend, Kan., Weiser received a bachelor of arts and a master of science in education from the University of Kansas. He began his career in athletics at KU, where he worked from 1981-88. During that time, he held administrative positions as ticket manager and marketing director. He also served as the Kansas women’s golf coach from 1984-88.
He was the associate director of development for Ottawa University from 1990-93. He joined Emporia State in 1999, after serving as associate athletic director at Oregon State University for six years.
Weiser has two daughters - Katie, a 2017 graduate of the University of Kansas and Abby, a 2019 graduate of Emporia State University.
“I’m confident the future of Emporia State Athletics is bright,” said Weiser, “and the best days are yet to come.”