Posted on Aug 10, 2018
The inaugural KU Kickoff event in downtown Topeka took place Aug. 9 outside the Celtic Fox at 8th Street and Kansas Avenue. The celebration featured food, music, promotional items and the opportunity to win tickets and more.
Brian Hanni, the Voice of the Jayhawks, hosted the event. Featured speakers included Chancellor Doug Girod, football head coach David Beaty and women’s soccer head coach Mark Francis.
Check out some of the event’s highlights below in our compilation of social media posts! Future events will be held in Wichita, Prairie Village and Lawrence.
Social media highlights from KU Kickoff in Topeka
Posted on Aug 7, 2018
As the Kansas football team works through fall camp, Kansas Athletics and the KU Alumni Association have announced four dates providing fans opportunities to meet and greet the Jayhawks before the season begins.
With outings scheduled for Topeka, Wichita, Kansas City and Lawrence, the celebrations will feature food, music, promotional items and the opportunity to win tickets and more. The KU band and spirit squads will be in attendance at the various locations.
KU Kickoff at Topeka
Scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 9 at 6 p.m., outside the Celtic Fox at 8th Street and Kansas Avenue, the KU Kickoff at Topeka will be hosted by the Voice of the Jayhawks, Brian Hanni. Featured speakers will be Chancellor Doug Girod, football head coach David Beaty and women’s soccer head coach Mark Francis.
KU Kickoff at Wichita
Slated for Wednesday, Aug. 15 at 6 p.m., at Beech Lake off of 13th Street and Webb, the KU Kickoff at Wichita will again be hosted by Hanni and will feature Girod, Beaty and Director of Athletics Jeff Long.
KU Kickoff at Corinth Square (Kansas City)
The 13th annual KU Kickoff at Corinth Square will be held on Friday, Aug. 17 and will get started at 6 p.m., at the parking lot at the Corinth Square Shopping Centre in Prairie Village. Jayhawk radio network football color analyst David Lawrence will host the KU Kickoff at Corinth Square with Girod, Beaty and Long scheduled to attend, along with KU Alumni Association’s Heath Peterson.
KU Kickoff at Lawrence
The quartet of celebrations will conclude at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium as the KU Kickoff at Lawrence will take place on Saturday, Aug. 25 from 2-4 p.m. The Fun Zone will be set up right on Kivisto Field and gates will open at 2 p.m. Food trucks will be set up around the stadium and the Jayhawk players will sign autographs starting at 3 p.m. Parking for the KU Kickoff at Lawrence and is free and open. Fans attending the event are encouraged to park on the east side of DBK Memorial Stadium in Lots 91 and 94.
Posted on Jul 13, 2018
in Alumni News
Jeff Long vividly recalls the moment he decided he wanted to join KU as the next athletics director. It wasn’t about the chance to renovate a football program, or wins and losses, dollars and cents, academic reputation or even quality of life in Lawrence.
All played a factor, but only came into play after he’d met two men dispatched to make KU’s pitch: A. Drue Jennings, d’68, l’72, who chaired the search process, and Vice Chancellor Reggie Robinson, c’80, l’87, who served as Chancellor Doug Girod’s representative.
“From the moment I met them, I knew I was meeting with two men who have deep love for Kansas, deep love for this University, and it had an immediate impact on me,” Long said at his July 11 introductory news conference. “I thought, you know what, if these are the type of people who are at Kansas, then this is the kind of place I want to be.”
Jennings, former chairman and CEO of Kansas City Power & Light, said at Long’s news conference that he learned early on in the search that “this chancellor means business. As pleasant and human as he may appear, which he is, he does indeed mean business.” Which is exactly the signal that Girod sent when he told the University community—on the day he relieved Sheahon Zenger, PhD’96, of his duties—that he’d already asked Jennings to lead the search for Zenger’s replacement.
He means business.
Filling the void
Even a cursory summary of Jennings’ honors and volunteer service to the University and charitable organizations throughout Kansas City would run for pages. Suffice, then, to note that when Jennings was awarded what was then the University and Alumni Association’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Citation, in 1999, he had yet to lead even a single prominent leadership search on KU’s behalf.
Four years later, in 2003, Chancellor Robert E. Hemenway asked Jennings to fill a leadership void and step in as interim athletics director, and Jennings promptly hired Bill Self to coach men’s basketball. “I don’t think they had a search when they hired me,” Self says. “Just Drue.”
When Hemenway announced his retirement, the Kansas Board of Regents in 2008 asked Jennings to lead the search for KU’s next chancellor, which culminated in the hiring of Bernadette Gray-Little. And now he’s done it yet again, responding to Girod’s call to find the next leader of Kansas Athletics.
“He literally dropped everything,” Girod said.
So who is this Jayhawk behind the scenes, and why have the Regents and University repeatedly turned to him in times of transition?
Robinson cites Jennings’ “unwavering steadiness.” Deputy Athletics Director Sean Lester, who served as interim director until Long’s hiring, says Jennings delivers “instant integrity, instant command, instant credibility.”
Says Robinson, “We trust not only his talent and his expertise, but also the way that his heart is leading him in a way that aims to do what’s best for the University. He clearly, to the benefit of whatever process he’s leading, conveys this sense of real gravitas to candidates we’re talking to. They know that they’re meeting with somebody of great substance, and that helps us. You look at the kind of people KU tries to attract, having somebody like Drue sit on our side of the table, with all of the capacity and gravitas that he brings, it’s hard to beat.”
Rising through the ranks
After graduating from Argentine High School, Jennings came to KU on a football scholarship, and eventually moved back to Kansas City to put his education degree to work as a teacher at Wyandotte High School. He returned to KU for law school, and in 1974 joined KCP&L as an attorney, advancing through the ranks to become CEO in 1988 and chairman of the board in 1991. After his retirement from KCP&L, Jennings was named senior counsel at the Kansas City law firm Polsinelli, from which he has since retired.
His service to KU has included five years on the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors; three years as chair of the KU Medical Advancement Board, of which he was a founding member; and four years as chair of the KU Endowment board, which Jennings continues to serve as a trustee.
“I tend to trust my gut”
Jennings concedes that technology has, in some respects, changed the nature of executive searches: “In today’s world of information access, you can find out amazing things about people. It doesn’t matter who they are. And, frankly, anyone who wants to do that type of exploring can do it.”
But, after the “measurable and visible data about the person and their life” have been gathered and closely studied, the next step is decidedly old school.
“Meet them,” Jennings says. “There’s nothing quite like looking into the eyes, visiting and reading the body language of a person. And that’s been true my entire life. I tend to trust my gut, trust my instincts.”
A solid person
As he tried to exit the Lied Center Pavilion and catch a flight for a recruiting trip, Self found himself swarmed by reporters, friends and colleagues; he was reluctant to pause even for a second to answer any more questions, but stopped and smiled when told the subject of this final query: For Drue Jennings, Bill Self has all the time in the world.
“The thing with Drue is, he knows this place probably about as well as anybody over the last four or five decades,” Self said. “I think he understands the business aspect of it, and he certainly understands the athlete experience aspect of it. And, to me, what Drue brings to the table is, he’s been very successful in his professional life, but he’s also a really solid person who would value a lot of his own characteristics.”
Ah, so there it is, the secret to Jennings’ search successes: Just find somebody like himself. Easier said than done, but a worthy goal regardless. Because he means business.
Posted on Jul 11, 2018
in Campus News
The University of Kansas officially introduced Jeff Long, the university’s new director of athletics, at a news conference July 11 in the Lied Center Pavilion.
The news conference began with opening remarks by Drue Jennings, who headed the university’s search process, as well as Chancellor Douglas A. Girod and Long. After that, the three sat together for a Q&A period with members of the media.
Long was announced as the university’s new director of athletics July 5. He will begin his role August 1.
Hightlights from Jeff Long’s press conference | KUSports.com
Posted on Jul 5, 2018
University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas A. Girod today named Jeff Long as the university’s new director of athletics.
Long brings more than two decades of experience in athletic administration at the Division I level, most recently at the University of Arkansas, where he led a program comprising 19 sports and 460 student-athletes from 2008 through 2017. During that time, he transformed Arkansas’ athletics department into one of the most successful in the country and established himself as a national leader within intercollegiate athletics.
Long will be officially introduced at a news conference Wednesday, July 11, in Lawrence at a time and location to be determined. He will start his role Aug. 1.
“Jeff Long has tremendous leadership and administrative experience in major college athletics, and he is a terrific fit for Kansas Athletics as we work to ensure our student-athletes succeed on the field and in the classroom,” Girod said. “Those who know him describe him as a man of character who cares deeply about higher education and the student-athletes he serves. For all these reasons, we are thrilled to welcome him to the University of Kansas.”
During Long’s tenure, Arkansas captured 34 conference championships and advanced to 139 postseason competitions, including the school’s first Bowl Championship Series appearance in football and national titles at the 2013 NCAA Men’s Indoor and 2015 NCAA Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships and the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. In 2016-17, Arkansas finished No. 20 in the Learfield Directors’ Cup, which measures universities’ success across all sports, marking the university’s eighth top-25 finish in the previous 10 years. Long also launched a $160 million renovation to Razorback Stadium. In the classroom, the Razorbacks posted a school record student-athlete GPA and exceeded the national APR multiyear rate in all 19 sports, including posting its highest program average ever.
Additionally, Long served as the chairman of the inaugural College Football Playoff selection committee for 2014 and 2015 and remained a member of the committee through 2017.
Prior to leading Arkansas, Long served as athletics director at the University of Pittsburgh. Additionally, he has held administrative roles at the University of Oklahoma, University of Michigan, Virginia Tech University, Eastern Kentucky University and Rice University. He held coaching staff positions at Duke University, the University of Michigan and North Carolina State University. In total, he has been an athletic director and administrator in five of the six Bowl Championship Series conferences — the Big 12, Big Ten, Big East, Atlantic Coast and SEC.
“My family and I are thrilled to join Chancellor Girod’s leadership team at the University of Kansas,” Long said. “It was clear from the moment I met with the chancellor and his search committee members, they have a deep love for the university and understand and appreciate the positive role intercollegiate athletics plays in the university community. Through our conversations, it became evident we share a common belief that the student-athlete experience prepares young people for the challenges they will face throughout life. I am excited to work with the student-athletes, coaches, staff, the community of Lawrence and the incredible fan base to build on past success and create a shared vision for the future of Kansas Athletics.”
Long comes to KU after a seven-week search process headed by Girod and KU alumnus Drue Jennings, who served as KU’s interim director of athletics in 2003.
“We are thrilled to have someone of Jeff’s caliber joining the University of Kansas,” Jennings said. “Jeff has a record of integrity, experience in hiring coaches, ties with other Bowl Championship Series schools, effective fundraising and a willingness to lead on national issues affecting college athletics. We can be proud that he’s joining us at KU, and we can be confident that Kansas Athletics is in good hands under his leadership.”
Long’s contract with Kansas Athletics will pay him $1.5 million per year for five years. Of that amount, $1.3 million is paid by private funds from Kansas Athletics Inc., with the remaining $200,000 paid by the university.
An Ohio native, Long and his wife, Fanny, have two daughters, Stephanie and Christina.
Read more, including what others are saying about the selection of Jeff Long.
Posted on Jun 29, 2018
in Campus News
Thanks to more than 550 alumni and friends and numerous University partners who participated in the first eight Hawks & Highways events in June. The ongoing series supports Chancellor Doug Girod’s priority to strengthen KU’s statewide outreach.
The KU Alumni Association and Kansas Athletics are coordinating Hawks & Highways, which thus far has featured the chancellor, football coach David Beaty, men’s basketball coach Bill Self and leaders from KU Admissions, the Office of Public Affairs, KU Libraries, KU Edwards Campus, KU Endowment, and the schools of Law, Medicine and Social Welfare.
After visiting eight communities this summer, Hawks & Highways will resume the first week of October, with four events in Great Bend, Liberal, Dodge City and Winfield. Other upcoming events include 14 regional Kansas Honor Scholars receptions from September through November.
We’re grateful to the Alumni Association members and donors and the Williams Education Fund donors whose support is critical to Hawks & Highways. Together we will continue to bring the best of KU to communities throughout Kansas.
Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09
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Posted on Jun 28, 2018
in Alumni News
The Hawks and Highways tour stopped in Hutchinson for a Jayhawk tradition unlike any other. The ninth annual KU Alumni Invitational took place June 25 at Prairie Dunes Country Club.
The annual event brought members of the Presidents Club together to enjoy a round of golf with KU special guests. Chancellor Doug Girod, Bill Self, head men’s basketball coach, and Heath Peterson, president of the KU Alumni Association, all attended.
The foursome of Zach Dyer, Will Moore, Cameron Wilste and Kyle Tucker won the championship flight.
“The alumni invitational at Prairie Dunes is a fantastic event,” said Moore, l’06. “Having the opportunity to play one of the best golf courses in the world with fellow Jayhawks is an unbelievable opportunity. The event is well organized and always a great time. I look forward to playing every year.”
“First, it’s a great venue, a first class golf course,” said John Miles. “My group and I played last year and knew we had to come back. The Alumni Association and the Williams Fund do a great job setting up the event and making everyone who participates feel important.”
Kent Deutsch, Kent Richardson, Tommy Castor, and Chris Ugolini made up the first flight leaders.
The event was presented by Tickets for Less, a partner of the KU Alumni Association. Campus partners includingKansas Athletics the Williams Education Fund, KU Admissions, the School of Social Welfare, and the KU Medical School also attended.
Hawks & Highways is a multi-year effort coordinated by the KU Alumni Association and Kansas Athletics. Tour events feature appearances by KU coaches as well as university administrators and other special guests.
Posted on Jun 22, 2018
in Alumni News
A Special Welcome
When the Charlotte Hornets announced a meet-and-greet for their newly drafted player Devonte’ Graham, Charlotte Jayhawks were there to welcome him to their city.
“I’m a native Charlottean and was six when the Hornets started. I’ve been waiting a long time for my hometown team to pick one of our guys,” said Rebecca Ferry, d’05. Ferry leads the local alumni network.
The meet-and-greet was extra special for Kelly Hunter and her son Luke. When the Hornets heard Luke was celebrating his 11th birthday, they pulled a few strings and sold him the store’s first Devonte’ Graham jersey.
The story gets even better: This wasn’t the first time Luke had met Devonte’. Luke and his mother ran into Graham two years ago while they were on campus.
On Luke’s 9th birthday.
“Devonte’ said he remembered meeting him,” said Kelly. “Luke thinks the Hornets drafting Devonte’ is the best birthday present ever.”
Read more about the 2018 NBA Draft, which saw former KU basketball players Devonte’ Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk drafted in the second round.
Posted on Jun 22, 2018
A pair of Jayhawk seniors saw their NBA dreams realized Thursday night: Devonte’ Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk both heard their names called during the 2018 NBA Draft.
The day began with Devonte’ sharing his wide range of emotions on the upcoming night:
Lots of Jayhawk alumni offered their support for their former teammates:
Alumni in Nashville, Tampa and Omaha also got together at their local watch sites to see where the Jayhawks would begin their NBA careers.
Going home again
The Big 12 Player of the Year didn’t have to wait long into the second round to know his destination, as the Charlotte Hornets traded two future second round picks to secure the first-team All-American at pick #34. Graham continues to be linked to his former backcourt teammate Frank Mason III, who was drafted with the same pick last year by the Sacramento Kings.
Graham finds himself going back to where it all began, as the Charlotte Hornets play only two hours away from his hometown of Raleigh.
Graham represented his alma mater with a KU tie at his introductory press conference:
He also shared how excited he is to have his family nearby:
From a legendary college program to a historic NBA franchise, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk’s world tour continues after the Los Angeles Lakers selected him with the 47th pick.
Chip on the shoulder
While Malik Newman and Billy Preston were not selected, their professional basketball careers are just beginning. Former Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr., who went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft and now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, shared his advice:
Reports indicate Malik Newman has signed a two-way contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, allowing him to play for the Lakers and their G League affiliate.
Posted on May 21, 2018
in Campus News
Chancellor Douglas A. Girod sent the following message to all University of Kansas faculty and staff members on Monday, May 21, 2018. The message was also posted on the chancellor’s website.
I am writing to inform you of a leadership change in Kansas Athletics.
This morning I met with Director of Athletics Sheahon Zenger and informed him that I am relieving him of his duties, effective immediately.
Sheahon has been a loyal Jayhawk, and our athletics department has improved in many areas under his leadership. But Athletics continues to face a number of challenges, and progress in key areas has been elusive. To achieve the level of success we need and expect, I have determined a change in leadership is necessary.
Sean Lester, our deputy athletics director, will serve as interim director. I have spoken with Sean about my expectations for the coming months, and I am confident he will provide sound leadership and stability during this transition.
I have begun the process of identifying a permanent athletics director. To lead this process, I have enlisted Drue Jennings, one of our most respected and accomplished alumni. Many of you know Drue as our interim athletics director in 2003 and for his role in leading the search processes that brought Chancellor Gray-Little and Coach Self to KU. Jed Hughes, a consultant with the Korn Ferry executive search firm, will assist Drue.
Some of you may have questions about our football program. I spoke with Coach Beaty earlier today and shared my expectation that he will continue recruiting hard and getting his team ready for the season.
Since becoming chancellor, I have spent countless hours with higher education peers and Jayhawks to hear their perspective on KU. A common thread in these conversations is that, as a major public university with national aspirations, we must continue to strive for excellence in all areas — including athletics. As I have said many times, a successful athletics department is inextricably linked to our broader mission as a flagship research university.
The other common thread in these conversations is optimism for Kansas Athletics. Across the country, we are recognized as having elite programs, a proud tradition, and a loyal fan base. These assets will serve us well as we identify a new leader for Kansas Athletics.
I want to thank Sheahon for his service during the past seven years. Under his leadership, student-athlete GPAs reached an all-time high. Rock Chalk Park, McCarthy Hall, and the DeBruce Center are lasting tributes to his efforts. Most importantly, he prioritized our student-athletes and represented KU with integrity and class.
Thank you for your support in moving KU forward.
Douglas A. Girod
University of Kansas