Ransdell: Decisions on basketball programs will be made by Bjork

Gary Ransdell

Zach Greenwell

WKU President Gary Ransdell said it’s unlikely Athletics Director Ross Bjork expected to deal with two struggling basketball programs just eight months into his position.

But as both the men’s and women’s teams continue to try to find their footing this season, Ransdell told the Herald Friday that Bjork will have his support with any decisions moving forward.

“Any action taken to any of our athletic programs is going to be Ross’ decision, and I’m going to support Ross at all times,” Ransdell said after Friday’s Board of Regents meeting. “Nobody’s ready to go in and make any premature decision. We still have a lot of basketball to play.”

The Toppers (6-11) picked up an 84-75 win at South Alabama Thursday, but it was their first Sun Belt win of the season. It was also WKU’s first win since Dec. 11.

“But then again, I don’t think any of us really saw this coming,” Ransdell said. “We’ve been embarrassed by some really good teams that we should have at least played tough if not beaten, and we’ve also lost to some teams that have very poor RPI rank, and those things should not happen in our basketball program. There are lots of reasons for it. Lots of dynamics in play.”

The Lady Toppers have also struggled this season, standing at 7-10 overall despite a 4-2 record in Sun Belt play.

Attendance numbers have dropped for both programs in recent weeks, and Ransdell said he acknowledges that fans are starting to become antsy.

“I would hope that people are WKU fans first and foremost,” he said. “Nobody’s more frustrated than Ross and me. Nobody understands the financial implications any more than Ross. They’re significant. I understand how a successful program brings energy and pride to a campus, and how a program struggling the way ours is provides a stressful element and an element of concern for the campus. “

Ransdell said he remains in constant communication with Bjork, and the two will continue to frequently evaluate the state of each program.

Whether the time comes for change or not, Ransdell said he will “support Bjork each step of the way.”

“Neither Ross or I are giving up on this program, this coaching staff, and certainly not these players,” Ransdell said. “So we’re taking it a week at a time and studying it. Where we are now is not acceptable. It will be corrected.”

Reporter Jonathan Lintner contributed to this story.