Money was tight for Joanie DeGraw Jones and her family in the late 1960s, so she was only able to spend her freshman year at KU before returning home and completing her nursing studies in Kansas City, Kansas.
Jones, ’72, made the most of her limited time on the Hill, however, joining the Frosh Hawks pep club and cheering on the football ’Hawks as they stormed through a one-loss 1968 season on their way to a Big Eight championship and a trip to the Jan. 1, 1969, Orange Bowl in Miami.
While watching classmates pile into southbound cars, buses and trains for a trip she could not afford, Jones consoled herself by purchasing two keepsakes: a short-sleeved KU Orange Bowl sweatshirt and the custom-pressed single “Hawk it to ’Em,” by The Tips.
“I am really sad that I didn’t get to finish all four years,” says Jones, now retired from a long nursing career at Providence Medical Center, “but I treasure my things from there.”
She recently pulled the mint-condition sweatshirt and red-vinyl record from a sealed bag tucked safely in the back of her closet, where they’d been stored for 50 years, and asked her children what they might do with the mementos if they inherited them.
“They really couldn’t give me an answer,” Jones says, “and I thought, you know what? I’m just going to call [University Archives, in Spencer Research Library], and the lady said, ‘We don’t have anything like that. We’d love to have it.’ I wanted it be somewhere where it will be taken care of and treasured.”
Jones’ sweatshirt and record recently joined University Archives’ student life collection, significantly boosting KU’s holdings of 1969 Orange Bowl items, including photographs, negatives and color slides donated by the Alumni Association (which can be viewed with an “Orange Bowl” search here); a media guide and game program; and an as-new carry-on bag given to travelers by Maupintour.
“This is one of the best collections that we have that reflects student life at the time,” says Archivist Becky Schulte, c’76. “We don’t really have this much for any other athletic event that I know of. This is really exceptional. These photos of players with fans, signing autographs, lounging by the pool, we just don’t get that kind of stuff.”
As for her own keepsakes, Jones says she “treasured them all this time,” but she’s glad she decided to donate them to University Archives while she’s still here to savor the satisfaction of her decision to pass them along for sharing and safekeeping.
“I’m glad I’m alive to enjoy what I’ve done,” Jones says, “rather than donating after somebody passes away. I wanted to see that they benefited somebody else.”
The University of Kansas released the following statement on Sunday, Nov. 18.
Les Miles, a national championship-winning former coach at Louisiana State and Oklahoma State, has been named the new head football coach at the University of Kansas, Kansas Athletics Director Jeff Long announced Sunday.
Miles will be formally introduced at a press conference today at 5 p.m. The press conference will be streamed live and may be viewed by clicking here. He will then do a special “Hawk Talk” radio show at 7 p.m. from Johnny’s West restaurant in West Lawrence.
With Miles’ hiring, Kansas becomes the only university in the country that can boast a current men’s basketball coach with an NCAA Division I Championship and a football coach with an FBS Championship.
Miles will receive a five-year contract that will pay him $2,775,000 annually, with additional retention bonuses due in Nov. 2020 and Nov. 2022.
“Since the beginning of our search, we focused on identifying and recruiting an experienced head coach with a strong track record of success on and off the field,” Long said. “Les Miles is exactly what we need for our program right now. His national reputation as a great recruiter and as a coach who student-athletes love playing for will enable us to break the cycle and return a winning tradition to the Kansas Jayhawks. We are thrilled to have Les and his family as Jayhawks.”
Miles brings to Lawrence 142 victories, a BCS national championship and two SEC titles in 15-plus seasons as a head coach, the most career wins of anyone who has coached football at Kansas in the modern era.
Most recently, Miles served as the head coach at LSU (2005-16), where his teams averaged 10 wins per year in his 11 full seasons. He led LSU to bowl games in each of those 11 seasons (winning seven), and won 42 games against Top-25 teams and 16 over Top-10 teams. Miles’ teams won 10 or more games seven times, reached the SEC title game three times (winning twice) and led LSU to five Top-10 and three Top-5 finishes.
“I am humbled by the opportunity to lead the KU football program and I am grateful to Chancellor Girod and Jeff Long for the opportunity,” said Miles. “We will bring Jayhawk Football back and we will do it with outstanding coaches, tremendous student-athletes of character and ability and an unrelenting drive for excellence. My family and I cannot wait to be a part of the KU family!”
During his tenure at LSU, Miles coached an SEC-leading 69 NFL draft picks, 13 of them first-round selections. He coached 22 first-team All-Americans and 11 players who won national awards. He is the second-winningest coach in LSU history in overall wins (112) and SEC regular-season wins (63).
In the classroom, more than 240 players earned degrees under Miles and during his tenure, LSU Football’s graduation rate ranked as high as No. 2 in the SEC multiple times. As part of LSU’s Project Graduation established in 2010, more than 30 players who had left school without a degree returned to earn their college diploma before Miles left in 2016. Nearly 190 LSU players were named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll during Miles’ time there.
“I want to thank Jeff Long for his outstanding work and leadership of our Athletics’ program. I also want to thank the student-athletes in our football program for the mature way in which they have handled this challenging circumstance. I have no doubt that Coach Miles will have an immediate impact on our football program, and on our university,” Chancellor Girod said. “Together as Jayhawks, we will rebuild our football program the right way, winning championships and continuing to graduate young men of character. Today is an exciting day for the KU Family.”
Miles went to LSU after a four-year tenure as head coach at Oklahoma State. The OSU program he took over in 2001 had registered only one winning season since 1988. The Cowboys went 4-7 his first year, then had three-straight winning seasons (8-5, 9-4, 7-5). He led OSU to three-straight bowl games, a first for the program since 1983-85.
Miles’ four-year winning percentage of 57 percent is the best career winning percentage for an OSU coach since 1949. OSU was the only team in the nation to beat Oklahoma twice during Miles’ four-year tenure there.
Prior to OSU, Miles spent three years as tight-ends coach with the Dallas Cowboys (one divisional title, two playoff appearances). He went to Dallas after serving as offensive coordinator at OSU for three seasons (8-3, Alamo Bowl berth in 1997).
Miles served two stints (total of 10 seasons) as an assistant coach at Michigan, several of them under legendary head coach Bo Schembechler. During Miles’ second tenure there, from 1987-94, Michigan won 71 games, made eight-straight bowl appearances, including four Rose Bowls, and finished no lower than No. 21 in the final Associate Press national rankings.
Between tenures at Michigan, Miles spent four seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Colorado.
Miles graduated from Michigan in 1976 with a degree in economics. He was a two-year football letterman, playing on two Big Ten championship teams. He earned all-state honors in football at Elyria High School in Ohio, where he also earned letters in baseball and wrestling.
Miles’ wife, Kathy, was a point guard at Central Michigan University and later an assistant basketball coach at Michigan. They have two daughters, Kathryn (nickname “Smacker”), a former swimmer at Texas and currently a TV sports personality who hosts Les’ podcast), and Macy, a youth softball pitching standout. They also have two sons, Manny, a quarterback at North Carolina, and Ben, who won a high-school football state title in 2015 and is currently a fullback at Texas A&M.
Kansas track legend Billy Mills received a weekend full of honors in Lawrence, culminating in South Middle School’s re-dedication as Billy Mills Middle School.
The South Dakota native’s KU story began at Haskell, and later the University of Kansas, where he was a three-time NCAA All-American. Mills’ running career reached its zenith at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, where his winning time in the 10,000 meter run set a world record and won America’s first gold medal in the event.
After a unanimous vote by the Lawrence School Board in February, South Middle School was approved for a name change to honor Mills and the Native American history of the Lawrence area. Mills spoke at the dedication ceremony on his hopes for the school:
Mills also shared photos from a tour of the school:
The city of Lawrence and the University of Kansas joined in the celebration as well, with Mayor Stuart Boley proclaiming Saturday, Nov. 3, Billy Mills Day and the University announcing that Mills will receive an honorary degree at 2019 commencement.
The following announcement was shared by KU Athletics today regarding the future of KU Football Head Coach David Beaty.
David Beaty will not be retained as Head Football Coach at the University of Kansas at the conclusion of the season, KU Athletics Director Jeff Long announced today.
“After a thorough evaluation of the program, I believe that new leadership is necessary for our football team to move forward and compete at the highest level of the Big 12 Conference,” Long said. “I know that Coach Beaty cares deeply about his players, and I respect that. The student-athletes on this team have continued to play hard – and I am confident they will do that for the rest of the season.”
Beaty has coached the Jayhawks for three-plus seasons, amassing a 6-39 record, 2-31 in Big 12 Conference play. He will continue to coach the team until the regular season concludes against Texas on Friday, November 23. He signed a five-year contract in December 2014, which was extended two years (through 2021) in December 2016.
Long informed Beaty of his decision Sunday and met with the football team directly afterwards. “The search for a new head coach will begin immediately,” he said.
Beaty’s contract calls for him to be paid $3 million (payable in six equal payments) in the event of termination without cause; Long said Kansas will fulfill the terms of that contract.
Jeff Long will conduct a press conference at 6 p.m. this evening in Hadl Auditorium in the Wagnon Student-Athlete Center, adjacent to the Allen Fieldhouse Parking Garage. The press conference will be streamed and is available here:
KU’s annual Late Night in the Phog brings with it the excitement of a new basketball season. And when Kansas Athletics needed a high-energy host to keep the crowd of 16,300 buzzing, they turned to KU Alumni’s own Danny Woods.
Woods, j’13, helps manage the 50-plus networks of Jayhawk alumni across the country with a level of enthusiasm worthy of the Phog. We sat down with him to hear about his experience on James Naismith Court.
How did you get the job?
I was approached by KU Athletics around the time of the KU vs. Rutgers football game. They asked if I would be interested in doing pregame PA announcements for Gameday on the Hill, a tailgating experience on Campanile Hill with food, beverages, retail and live music before football games. Nothing was mentioned about Late Night at this time, but I think it was a test run. Athletics was just making sure I could, as the saying goes, walk and chew gum at the same time. I was offered the emcee position the following week.
How much freedom were you given?
Working with the Athletics marketing office was great. Leading up to Late Night they provided me with a script and a timeline of events. But they told me, “We want you to be yourself out there. Change up any of the language so it feels comfortable and natural to you.” It was a great feeling to have the framework of the house, but then be able to furnish it myself.
How did you think your performance went?
Well, I didn’t get fired yet, so that’s always a plus! But for real, it was awesome. To be honest, I was super nervous. Late Night is a huge night for KU students, alumni and fans, and I just wanted to make sure they had a great experience. There are definitely opportunities for me to grow and make future emcee performances better. And yes, this is definitely me openly lobbying to be the emcee for future Late Nights.
What was your favorite part of the night?
Can I take the easy road out and say the whole thing? This was actually the first Late Night I have been to since I was a student. When I worked in the Office of Admissions, Late Night always fell during travel and recruitment season. *cough cough* Any prospective students out there reading this make sure you apply by the Nov. 1st scholarship deadline! And since I have been at the Alumni Association, I have always been out in one of our national networks during Late Night. So just having the opportunity to be in Allen Fieldhouse during Late Night was the best.
Most importantly: Did you get to meet 2 Chainz?
2 Chainz and I got to be in the same room and we definitely breathed the same air. I did not, however, formally meet him. I was afraid if I actually tried to introduce myself to him before Late Night that I would pass out from excitement.
It’s been 25 years since the 1993-94 basketball season, when Jacque Vaughn introduced himself to the world with an overtime buzzer-beater against Indiana. For some Jayhawks, their experience that season was special not just for what happened on the court, but also in the stands.
Jeremy Boldra spent his sophomore year in the stands as Kramer, Jerry’s goofy neighbor in the hit television series “Seinfeld”. What began as an idea for a Halloween costume put Boldra, d’97 g’03, into Captain Jayhawk-levels of fame for one fun season.
We could try to tell the story, but perhaps it’s best to let the man himself share how Kramer came to be.
An idea is born
The idea came to me when a roommate saw me with my hair standing up and told me I looked like Kramer. At the time I had no idea who that was, so he introduced me to “Seinfeld,” which we soon were all watching together every Thursday night. As we watched, I knew I could totally play that character. So I decided I’d do it for a Halloween party my sophomore year. That fall, I saw an ad in the Daily Kansan for a sitcom character contest at Late Night with Roy Williams, which was the night before Halloween.
When I got to the Fieldhouse, I knew I had to make an entrance like Kramer always would. So I swung the door open and stormed in, making so much noise that all the contestants that were already there turned and said “Kramer!” One of the judges literally leaps over a table and tells me “You’re in!”
So it’s time for the contest and we’re in the hallway where the team comes out. They called my name, and I had a plan. I just jogged out there, and once I made it to the free throw line, I wiped out. I hit the floor, then got up shaking, then strutting out to half court. By the time I got there, fans were chanting “Kramer! Kramer!” The chanting went on over the next contestant. One contestant got booed, another got no response. I made it to the finals, the Kramer chants started again, and it was a blast.
Kramer lives on
The next night was Halloween, and we were talking with some cheerleaders at a party who said I should dress up for home games, so after a little convincing I decided to do it.
So I dressed up as Kramer in the student section, and by the second or third game people were asking me for autographs, it was getting a little weird. So I decided to not dress up for the next game. Which was Temple, which we lost. As I was leaving, several people said to me “We lost because you didn’t dress up.” So I start dressing up again and sure enough, we go on a huge winning streak.
I only did it for that year. I had a lot of fun, but it was time. Since then, I’ve run into people who remember me from those games.
Where is Kramer now? Boldra is the superintendent at Flint Hills school district, just outside of El Dorado. Jeremy and his wife, Bryna, have two sons, Landon, 11, and Keenan, 8. This year’s Late Night in the Phog takes place Friday, Sept. 28.
If you’ve been on social media at all this past week, you’ve surely seen the highlight of the year in college football. If you haven’t, enjoy:
North Texas’ Keegan Brewer faked out the entire Arkansas team by standing around after catching the ball, without ever signaling for a fair catch. After a couple of Arkansas players started walking to their sideline, Brewer took off for a touchdown.
Brewer started his football career at the University of Kansas, where he caught 15 passes as a true freshmen. After his freshman year, Brewer transferred to North Texas to be closer to home.
Brewer’s heroics got us thinking about other trick plays that Kansas has run throughout the years.
2016: Downed in the end zone
When the Jayhawks wore all blue against Iowa State in 2016, wide receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez took the opportunity to camouflage himself in the blue turf of the end zone. Wide receiver Steven Sims returned the kick, then turned and threw across the field to Gonzalez, who scampered down the sideline for a 34 yard gain.
2016: Razzle-dazzle to hook the Horns
After driving the length of the field to cut the deficit to 21-16, the Jayhawks needed to go for 2 to cut the deficit to a field goal. Head Coach David Beaty called for misdirection, with running back Ke’aun Kinner taking a direct snap and pitching the ball to Steven Sims, who ran his way into the end zone to close the deficit.
2008: Orange Bowl heroics
Faced with a 4th and 10 at midfield, Head Coach Mark Mangino took a big gamble to keep the drive going. A direct snap to running back Brandon McAnderson, who threw to Micah Brown to keep the drive alive. While the drive didn’t end with points, we promise you’ll like the ending if you stick around.
2004: Randle ends the streak
With Kansas State in town holding an 11-game winning streak over KU, Mangino pulled out all the stops to bring the Jayhawks a victory. Quarterback Adam Barmann threw a screen to wide receiver Brandon Rideau, who pitched it to running back John Randle, who dove for the end zone to send the Memorial Stadium crowd into a frenzy.
1996: Hidden Henley
Throwing it way back here, to when Glen Mason’s Jayhawks traveled to Salt Lake City to play the #20 Utes. Down 38-35, KU lined up for a field goal, with running back June Henley jogging towards the sideline. Quarterback Matt Johner, serving as the holder on the play, threw the ball to a wide-open Henley near the sideline for a touchdown.
1995: No punt in Norman
Head Coach Glen Mason had more than one trick up his sleeve. When the Jayhawk offense stalled out in Norman against the #15 Sooners, punter Darrin Simmons kept the ball and ran it himself for a nearly 50 yard gain. KU would go on to win 38-17.
We probably missed a crazy play from back in the day, so let us know if we need to add your favorite one!
University of Kansas Director of Athletics Jeff Long sent the following message to KU fans and season ticket holders Thursday, August 30.
Greetings Jayhawks and Rock Chalk!
I am thrilled to address you for the first time as the Director of Athletics at the University of Kansas. Over these first few weeks I have experienced firsthand the tremendous spirit and passion KU alumni, faculty, staff and students have for this great University. Our history and tradition truly make this institution special.
As we enter the academic and competitive year, our coaches, student-athletes and staff are focused on competition – competition in the classroom, competition in their athletic pursuits and competition to engage in and make a positive impact in our communities. It is our expectation that we will continue to represent the flagship institution of KANSAS in a manner in which Jayhawks around the world will be even more proud.
Our number one priority will be the well-being of our 460-plus student-athletes and their individual student-athlete experience. We have the privilege and duty to educate these young minds, assist in their maturity, sharpen their athletic skills and produce proud University of Kansas graduates.
We have begun the process of identifying any and all obstacles that may exist that would prevent us from providing an amazing student-athlete experience. Two areas that directly impact this experience are revenue production and facility enhancements. Over the next few months we will engage in deep conversations about growing our membership in the Williams Education Fund and establishing a clear vision for our capital improvements, including David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, Allen Fieldhouse and Hoglund Ballpark.
You can make an immediate impact on the student-athlete experience by coming to David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium this fall to cheer on the crimson and blue. The young men on this team are dedicated to competing for KANSAS. Like you, they are Jayhawks; they love representing KANSAS and they need your support.
For those who have purchased season tickets, thank you. For those who haven’t, please consider helping us break the cycle and join us this Saturday and all season long.
The University of Kansas boasts some 350,000 alumni worldwide. As we tour the state and travel nationally I hope to meet many of you. Over the last month I have learned what you already know: This is a very special place, and I am grateful for the opportunity to represent you as the Director of Athletics at the University of Kansas!