MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) – 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.”

The 36-year-old Prince was named Sunday to follow Bill Snyder’s successful 17-year-run in Manhattan after spending the last five years at Virginia, including the last three years 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 and 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.

He’s also the youngest active coach in Division I-A, although Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema, the designate to replace Barry Alvarez, will be the youngest when he takes over.

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.

Then again, Kansas State has had success with an unexpected hire before.

“In 1989, Bill Snyder was not on our radar screen,” university president Jon Wefald said. “There were four or five coaches on the list. Bill Snyder was not on the list. But somehow, some way – probably serendipity – we came across the offensive coordinator at the University of Iowa and appointed him to be head coach.

“And guess what? He was pretty good.”

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.

“It’s the mission of this organization to become a fast, tough and disciplined team that consistently competes for championships,” he said. “It is our goal to be relentless in our pursuit of the Big 12 North title, to educate our people and to be recognized as the best organization in college football.”

Prince also indicated he might stick with Snyder’s strategy of scheduling nonconference games largely against teams from non-BCS conferences.

“The challenges you have in this league, this division, are very acute, very serious,” he said. “Hopefully, we will put together a schedule that helps us move forward.”

Prince, who said he would begin announcing his staff in a few days, met with Kansas State’s players before Monday’s news conference.

“It wasn’t a very detailed meeting, but he definitely established a feeling right off the bat,” linebacker Brandon Archer said. “He thinks integrity’s a real big thing. He praised the people that are positive about the program, and who want to uphold its achievements.”

AP-ES-12-05-05 2032EST

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