Officially, 301,031 fans have attended the six football games the Kansas State University Wildcats have played, and won, this season at their home facility, Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
The person in charge of the sales of those tickets — and tickets to the four other sports from which KSU derives revenue — is Scott Garrett. A 1998 graduate of Minooka Community High School, Garrett has served as the school's Associate A.D./Ticketing & Fan Strategies since June of 2010.
Less than a decade after taking an internship with compensation that failed to cover the cost of his commute, Garrett oversees marketing, ticket sales, trademark licensing and concessions in a major NCAA Division I athletic department. He continues to work toward his career goal, as stated on his LinkedIn page: "I hope to one day earn an opportunity to direct a Division I athletics program."
Starting in sports
Garrett was a lineman for the MCHS football team through the 1997 season, when the Indians went 9-2. Other than football, the only sport he played in an organized setting was soccer in Channahon when he was "5 or 6 years old." The lack of diversity in his involvement was not due to a lack of passion.
"I was a huge sports nut starting when I was 5 or 6 years old," Garrett said. "I was always in band. I played the trombone starting with when I was in fifth grade. That and football consumed most of my time."
As an MCHS student, Garrett began to seriously consider a career in sports. He remembers talking with a sports writer during career day when he was a sophomore.
"The wheels started spinning," he said. "I didn't know if I wanted to be a journalist or a sports agent or what, but I realized sports is a big business, and it can be a career."
Mike Briscoe, who became MCHS head football coach in time for Garrett's senior season, still remembers the passion Garrett had for athletics.
"Scott Garrett was the student/athlete that younger players always looked up to," Briscoe said. "He truly loved all sports and liked the sense of belonging to a team. Scott was a player that always understood that teamwork and having fun was the true meaning behind athletics. His maturity and loyalty made him a joy to coach."
Garrett credits Briscoe and another former MCHS teacher and coach, Dan Goggins, as being "instrumental in teaching me responsibility and leadership that has helped me advance in my career."
"I remember Scott being intelligent with an even-keeled demeanor and able to relate well with people," Goggins said. "I am sure those attributes have served him well in his career."
Garrett says that it was around the winter of his freshman year at Illinois State University that he started to really focus on a career in college athletics. He ended up receiving a degree in marketing and business administration in 2002 and moved on to Indiana University, where he earned a master's degree in Sports Management a year later.
Road to Manhattan
In September of 2003, Garrett was done with graduate school. He was about to marry the former Kristy McGann, who he had known since the first grade and dated since the two were MCHS sophomores. There was just one problem in his life.
"We were moving back home, and I was supposed to be married in September, and I didn't have a job," Garrett said. "It's a tough, tough industry to break into. I had applied for 40 or 50 jobs and hadn't gotten anywhere.
"So I'm on my way home a week before I'm getting married, and I need a job. I emailed all the (athletic directors) in Chicago ... at all of the Division I schools. I just said, 'Hey, I'm looking for a job in college athletics. I'd love to come volunteer until I find something full-time.'"
That day, Garrett says, he received a response from Jim Schmidt, who was and still is the A.D. at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Schmidt offered Garrett the chance to interview for an internship as the assistant director of ticket sales, a position Garrett eventually received.
"I was making like $800 a month," Garrett said. "I was losing money driving up there from my parents' house in Channahon."
Nine months into his UIC tenure, the director of ticket sales left the school, and Garrett was promoted to that position.
"It was a full-time position," he said. "The salary wasn't much, but it was a secure job with benefits, and it was a great starting point. And we had an unbelievable staff. There were a number of young people who were eager to get started in athletics, just as I was."
In August of 2008, Garrett left UIC to become the assistant athletic director for ticket operations at Wichita (Kan.) State University. He moved then on to Manhattan, Kan.-based KSU and his current position in June of 2010.
"It was certainly a promotion. There is more responsibility, and it's a chance to work at a BCS-level school," Garrett said. "Wichita State is a school with no football. It provided me a pretty good lifestyle, but it was always my goal to work at a place like K-State, which I consider to be in the top echelon of college athletic programs."
Present and future
Garrett is in charge of around $15 million worth of ticket sales in a given year, but his responsibilities are not limited to ticketing.
"I'm responsible for the following units — marketing, ticket sales, trademark licensing and concessions. I manage all of the staff in those areas," he said. "Our mission statement here at K-State is to be a model intercollegiate athletics program. We have five goals. The fifth of those is to be the best fan experience in the Big 12 (Conference), and my mission falls into those units. For me, that means selling as many tickets as possible and filling our venues and providing our fans with a great experience."
Work does not confine Garrett to his office and to KSU's athletic facilities.
"There is quite a bit of travel. I go to all football road games and travel to most of the men's basketball games — I actually spit those duties with another staff person," he said. "I travel to those events for a couple of functions — one, to help in distributing road game tickets, and also to survey what other departments are doing."
KSU has made the NCAA Tournament in men's basketball in both of the winters since Garrett came aboard. In football, the Wildcats went 7-6 and 10-3 in Garrett's first two seasons in his position. This fall, they started 10-0 and were No. 1 in the BCS standings before losing their last game, 52-24, at Baylor on Nov. 17. KSU's regular season ends Saturday with a home game against Texas.
"This season has been awesome," Garrett said. "We certainly had, going in, high expectations for the team. We knew we had a very special group, and I think our fans recognized that early as well. That made it easier to sell tickets, but it's still a ton of work selling 50,000 tickets for seven-plus home games."
For now, Garrett is happy with his role at KSU and with living in Manhattan with Kristy and their children, Matthew and Audrey. His ambition to become an athletic director one day has not subsided, however.
"Absolutely. I would love for that to happen," Garrett said. "I'm working towards that, but I do try to be patient. I certainly don't have a timetable for that to happen.
"I'm very excited and happy to be in Manhattan. It's an awesome place to raise a family. We have a tremendous staff here, one of the most talented college athletic staffs in the country. I will see what opportunities may arise in the future, but in the meantime, I'm happy to stay here."