Posted on Feb 20, 2018
in Alumni News
Pay Heed, All Who Enter
In 1988, a couple of KU students hatched an idea, created a banner and left a legacy that has come to define KU’s storied Allen Fieldhouse, known to many simply as “the Phog.” Thirty years later, the friends and KU alumni reunited to reminisce about the banner and how it all came to be.
“I was in class one day and had been thinking about it for a while,” Todd Gilmore revealed in a recent article in the Kansas City Star. “Then we started talking about building it.”
Gilmore, a’88, and classmate Michael Gentemann, a’88, went on the record in a short documentary aired by ESPN this week, sharing the story of how their partner in crime, Tom Kippenberger, a’88, managed to secure ten shower curtains from McCollum Hall, pinning them together to form one massive banner.
Gentemann did the honors by sketching out the now-famous phrase while a group of friends painted the sacred text on the banner sprawled across the floor of a hallway in Marvin Hall.
The banner was first hoisted into the rafters of the fieldhouse on Feb. 20, 1988.
“I’d never ever heard the words ‘the Phog,’ and he coined it,” Gentemann said of Gilmore’s reference to Forrest Allen’s nickname, now synonymous with the fieldhouse that bears his name. “It took off from there. Now it’s on T-shirts, coffee mugs, credit cards… it’s on everything.”
The short documentary can be watched in its entirety here, with comments from Coach Bill Self, ESPN College Game Day Analyst Jay Bilas and Allen’s own granddaughter, Judy Morris, c’60.
“What it has done is not only give the opposing team a little shudder maybe as they come through the doors,” Morris reflects in the mini-documentary, “but it also puts my grandfather’s name, “Phog,” out there and makes people remember him.”
Phog Allen’s legacy, and the phrase inspired by his name, live on inside Allen Fieldhouse where a vinyl version of the banner has replaced the original. It hangs in the Booth Hall of Athletics, enshrined behind glass, where Gilmore can admire their handiwork and marvel at that magical time in 1988.
“To win the national championship our senior year, Danny’s last year, we had this banner put up, what a perfect way to end a college career,” he said. “Can’t get any better than that.”
The creators of the famous “Beware of the Phog” banner, hanging at Allen Fieldhouse, home of the Jayhawks, tell you how they did it in this interview with Jesse Newell for the Kansas City Star.
Posted on Feb 19, 2018
Whenever ESPN’s College GameDay comes to Lawrence, students know to bring their A-game when it comes to signs. In between the signs cheering the Jayhawks and jeering the West Virginia Mountaineers, one student took a jab at the channel broadcasting the whole event.
Oklahoma’s Trae Young, considered by many to be a frontrunner for National Player of the Year, has received consistent coverage from the media all season, drawing the ire of some fans.
Jacob Camenzind, a sophomore from Wichita studying mechanical engineering, decided to poke some fun at the whole situation with a sign that read “ESPN mandated this sign be about Trae Young.”
“I knew College GameDay would probably talk about Trae Young since the show is essentially pregame coverage for all the games that day. I was also well aware of how tired some people are about ESPN’s constant coverage of Young, so I figured that’d be a good subject for the sign.”
A good subject it was, as Jacob began getting compliments and picture requests as soon as he walked into Allen Fieldhouse that morning. As the countdown to going live continued, the sign gained some new fans.
“When Rece Davis walked onto the court, he saw my sign, looked at me, and started laughing. As the rest of the analysts came in, Rece Davis pointed it out to Bilas, Williams, and Greenberg and they all gave a chuckle as well. During the show, one of the cameramen trained his camera on me, and he gave a thumbs up as I held up my sign. When I got on the video board, I knew we were on TV, and my whole section went crazy. Rece Davis stuck around after the show and took pictures with fans, and he told me my sign was hilarious.”
Jacob’s brush with fame wasn’t done. His tweet about the sign began to blow up, with more than 100 retweets on his own account, multiple KU fan accounts joining in the fun, and even a shoutout from Sports Illustrated.
Despite the sign, Jacob wanted to make his actual opinion on Trae Young clear.
“I love him as a player, don’t let the sign fool you. And to be completely honest, I have no problem with ESPN’s coverage of Trae Young. He is putting on a historic season, and he deserves every minute of attention he gets. I’m pretty tired of all the hate directed to him, but I still couldn’t resist making the sign because I knew people would find it funny.”
—Ryan Camenzind, j’17, Jacob’s brother, stood next to Jacob at College GameDay and watched as Jacob’s phone died in 20 minutes due to the constant buzz of notifications.
Posted on Jan 18, 2018
As the 2017-2018 Kansas basketball season enters conference play, the “Commemorate the Gr8s” tour continues to provide fans a behind-the-scenes look at the history of KU Basketball.
The exhibit celebrates the anniversaries of the 1988 and 2008 title teams with memorabilia from KU’s national championship seasons. Thanks to a partnership between the University of Kansas Libraries and the KU Alumni Association, the exhibit is making its way across America on a 28-city tour, visiting watch parties and other Jayhawk alumni network events.
LeAnn Meyer, assistant director of advancement at KU Libraries, has seen firsthand how the Jayhawk connection brings people together on the tour stops.
“Connecting with alumni, both near and far, has been incredibly rewarding,” Meyer said. “Jayhawk pride can be found coast to coast, and these events provide an opportunity for friends and alums to mingle with one another while perusing iconic photographs and memorabilia from the University Archives. The exhibit items often spark fond memories, and the stories shared create bonds between local Jayhawks.”
The exhibit includes the newspapers and magazines chronicling Danny and the Miracles’ amazing run and Mario Chalmers’ tying shot against Memphis, pictures from before, during and after the games that made the titles possible, and other artifacts from the championship teams.
Mark Merriman, c’73, Colorado Springs network volunteer, attended this year’s exhibit.
“I have had the opportunity to see the last three KU Library exhibits that have been here in Colorado Springs and each of them have been fun and interesting,” Merriman said. “The library staff has a track record of putting together amazing presentations of artifacts and memorabilia. Those of us living out of state truly appreciate the chance to view and relive those moments.”
The stops on the tour also provide a chance for local Jayhawks to get to know fellow KU alumni who live in their area. Visit our networks page to find a Facebook group with nearby Jayhawks, and visit kualumni.org/commemorate to learn more about the tour and see when it comes to a city near you.
– Ryan Camenzind
Posted on Dec 18, 2017
in Alumni News
While many University of Kansas alumni head to local game watch parties to feel like they’re back home in Lawrence, one family came to see if Lawrence was home.
Curtis Rach of Orange County, California, says he always pushed his kids to explore things outside of their home state. So when his son Davis was choosing a college, he had narrowed it down to two choices: follow his twin brother to Auburn, or strike out on his own at KU. To help him make the decision, Curtis took Davis to a local watch party for KU’s tournament game against Purdue last season.
Rach reached out to Ramy Rahman, b’09, Orange County Network leader, beforehand and told him about his plans. When he arrived at the watch party with Davis, they both were more than impressed with the hospitality.
“When people at the event heard he was thinking about KU, they all came up, introduced themselves, and told us stories about their experience at KU,” Rach said.
Both alumni and current students on spring break took time to meet Davis and his father. “What helped with the decision for him was how warm and inviting everyone was, and that they were so passionate about KU,” Rach explained.
The camaraderie and excitement of KU watch parties may have surprised the Rach family, but Danny Woods, assistant director of legacy and alumni programs, knows it well.
“The goal of watch parties is to provide a venue in which alumni can gather and feel like they’re back on campus for a big game,” Woods said. “When you graduate you’re still yearning for that experience. ”
He added that watch parties are like the “front porch” of KU alumni events. “They are often the first alumni gathering that people attend, and it opens the door for them to attend other events in their area.”
Davis carried through on his promise and is now a freshman at KU.
Interested in finding a watch party near you? Visit our website for a list of watch sites by state, and check out the online calendar for official watch parties organized by alumni networks.
Posted on Nov 15, 2017
With legendary programs such as Michigan State, Kentucky and Duke joining Kansas for the annual Champions Classic doubleheader, the stars were out in Chicago’s United Center.
One famous face, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, was spotted in the stands sporting a KU shirt and hat. Men’s basketball band members improvised a chant to invite Smith to come jam with the Jayhawks. “He was actually really nice and super excited to play with us,” says band director Sharon Toulouse, f’97, g’05. “A memory these guys will never forget!”
Watch the video below, posted by Chad Smith himself! The original video is from Kolby Coons, c’13.
Posted on Nov 9, 2017
Basketball season is here! The KU men’s basketball team takes on Kentucky in the State Farm Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 14. The game tips off at approximately 8 p.m. (CT), following the first matchup between Duke and Michigan State.
Champions Classic Pregame Party
Join fellow Jayhawks in Chicago for a pregame party! We’re teaming up with Kansas Athletics and the Williams Education Fund to host an event three hours before the first game.
Revel Fulton Market
1215 W. Fulton Market
Admission to the pregame party is $40 for members, Presidents Club members, and Williams Education Fund Members. Admission is $50 for nonmembers, and $15 for non-drinkers and those under 21 years old.
Your ticket includes an open bar and light appetizers. Plus, enjoy the pep rally and tailgate games while perusing the KU Libraries exhibit “Commemorate the Gr8s,” which celebrates the national title teams of 1988 and 2008.
Game watch parties
If you’re not traveling to Chicago, watch the game with fellow alumni, fans and friends at an official KU Alumni watch party! These events are hosted by alumni volunteers and you’ll certainly be surrounded by crimson and blue.
Click here for a list of watch sites. Please note, if there isn’t an official party scheduled on our calendar for a site, we can’t guarantee that the watch sites will show the KU game, especially if there are other college or professional sporting events happening at the same time.
Watch and listen
Watch the Jayhawks on ESPN or listen to the game live on the Jayhawk Radio Network.
Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!
Posted on Oct 23, 2017
It won’t register in either team’s standings or record books, but the Oct. 22 KU-Missouri men’s basketball exhibition game at Kansas City’s Sprint Center counted in a way that mattered much more than sports: The made-for-charity game between two schools that haven’t played each other in men’s basketball since 2012 generated $1.75 million (and rising) for hurricane relief.
“Kudos to both administrations and fan bases for doing something so special,” said KU coach Bill Self. “I admit, I had butterflies. I was excited to be out there.”
After a few pregame chants of the unpleasant, old-school variety—the sort of enmity that made many fans relieved the rivalry was halted by Missouri’s departure for the Southeastern Conference—reverberated inside Sprint Center, the great majority of Jayhawks and Tigers appeared eager to instead root hard for their team while also applauding the afternoon’s real purpose.
During timeouts, the scoreboard played video clips with KU and Mizzou athletes from hurricane-ravaged regions describing the devastation and challenges faced by their families, and thanking fans for supporting the game. Those short video clips generated loud applause by fans from both schools, evidence that the big picture remained clearly in focus, even as a hard-fought game was unfolding on the court.
“You can tell how much juice there was in the building,” said KU senior guard Devonte’ Graham, who led all scorers with 25 points, along with 10 rebounds and five assists. “It was a great atmosphere to play in.”
After KU’s 93-87 victory, both Self and first-year Mizzou coach Cuonzo Martin noted the value in the rare opportunity to play an exhibition game against a Div. 1 opponent—normally not allowed, with exceptions made this year only to support relief causes. Not only did young players get to experience a big-game atmosphere, but the contest also generated game tape that will provide countless teaching moments for the coaches as they continue their season preparations.
“The things we’ve been telling them they’re deficient at,” Self said, “now they’ll believe.”
KU’s next exhibition game is against Pittsburg State, Oct. 31 in Allen Field House.
Update: According to Kansas Athletics, the charity exhibition basketball game generated $2.011 million for victims of recent natural disasters in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The donations are a combination of ticket sales ($1.15 million), the Pay-per-View stream ($768,000) and text-to-give contributions ($68,000). Donations from other entities totaled approximately $25,000, bringing the total donation to some $2.011 million.
Posted on Oct 13, 2017
in Alumni News
Less than a week after Homecoming on the Hill, KU men’s basketball welcomed back one of its most recent stars. In preparation for Friday’s NBA preseason game at Sprint Center, Joel Embiid and his Philadelphia 76ers teammates traveled from Kansas City to Lawrence to hold practice at Allen Field House.
“We looked at it, and we were that close playing in Kansas City we thought it would be appropriate to visit this historic place,” coach Brett Brown said. “The historic perspective of this building, along with Joel’s history here, made it a no-brainer we should drive 45 minutes down the road and experience the building and practice here.”
The Sixers’ practice in Allen Field House gave their lone Jayhawk a rare in-season opportunity to visit the campus he dearly adores.
“I was supposed to take the bus with the team, but I wanted to walk around,” Embiid said. “I wanted to do that just to feel like I stayed for three more years, and I’m definitely going to come back to finish school.”
A secret revealed
The chance to relive his college days led Embiid, ’17, to share a secret about how much time he could have spent on the Hill: “I don’t think anybody knows this story. I actually decided to stay because I love this place so much, but I was kind of pushed to leave. Any time I get the chance to come back I’m going to do that. Stepping on this court, this is where it all started for me, so I’m really thankful.”
The Sixers selected Embiid third overall in the 2014 NBA draft, but the athletic 7-footer has been limited to 31 regular-season NBA games due to foot and back injuries, setbacks that almost led him to quit the game during his second year as a pro. The lack of game experience has not slowed Embiid’s development, due in large part to his capacity as a visual learner.
“It’s a rare skill,” coach Brown says. “He’ll see Dirk Nowitzki do something or Kevin Durant or Tim Duncan back in the day, and the next day it’s in his game and he’s trying it. His spirit is great. We need it to be great.”
This year, expectations for the Sixers include a potential playoff spot, which with a healthy Embiid would not be surprising. As he looks to lead his team to long overdue success, Embiid also knows what he left behind just three years ago.
“I miss the culture,” he says. “You know, the fans were amazing over here. We have some Duke teammates who think they got the best arena, but I always tell them, ‘You never been here.’ Sixteen thousand people cheering, you can’t even hear.”
The Sixers and Heat will tip off at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, in Kansas City’s Sprint Center.
Watch our slideshow below for more pictures from the team’s practice, or view the photos on Flickr.
Posted on Oct 11, 2017
As KU’s varsity rowing team prepares for its Oct. 22 season opener, the always festive Jayhawk Jamboree at Burcham Park on the Kansas River, one small bit of business remains unfinished: naming one of the two new boats that recently joined the Jayhawk fleet.
While one already has an as-yet-to-revealed name, the other shell awaits its moniker, and interim coach Carrie Cook-Callen, b’07, has opted to launch a naming contest. Cook-Callen suggests that entries incorporate University or state themes; to submit an entry, click here.
Fan voting will begin Oct. 16, when the finalists are revealed on the team’s Twitter and Facebook pages, @KU_rowing and /KansasRowing, and concludes the following day. The winning name will be revealed when the boat is christened at the Jayhawk Jamboree.
Posted on Oct 6, 2017
in Alumni News
You’re already in your seat. You’re still in line at the snack bar. Or maybe you are enjoying one last beverage before heading into Memorial Stadium. Be anywhere else but under the east side stands about 40 minutes before kickoff, and you will miss a Marching Jayhawks tradition that’s a little more obscure than most.
For 40 years, the Marching Jayhawks have used one song to pump them up before running onto the field at Memorial Stadium to play the songs that get everyone else ready for the game.
“When it’s hog calling time in Nebraska
When it’s hog calling time in Nebraska
When it’s hog calling time in Nebraska
When it’s hog calling time in Nebraska
If it sounds bizarre and unofficial, that’s because it is. Unlike other KU traditions that date back to the late 19th century, “Hog Calling” began 40 years ago when a group of Marching Jayhawks were bored.
From the top
Lee Whitman, d’82, from Kearney, Nebraska, learned the song while working on staff at a Boy Scout camp. “It was a silly song the staff would sing to the Boy Scout troops, kind of like a comedy skit,” Whitman said.
“It was started my freshman year in 1977 when three friends and I were trying to kill time before run-in by singing classic barbershop quartet songs. Fellow tubas John Clyatt & Gordon Lankenau, drum major Steve Gordon, and I ran through a few songs to scattered applause and had time to do one more. I pulled Hog Calling out and said to just follow my lead. The people listening laughed and next week we were asked to do it again. And so it started. By the time I marched my last game as a student, it had elevated to most of the band gathering around to join in,” Whitman said.
“Don’t ask me what made me suggest the four of us sing it that first time in 1977, or why such a nonsensical song would catch on in Jayhawk nation. It just happened. It was just a time-killer until everyone yelled ‘drums on the field’ meaning we were getting ready to run down the steps and start pregame.”
Surprised that the song is still going strong, 40 years later?
“I thought it would die a swift death after I graduated in 1982.”
Hog Calling today
Bennett Johnson, a Lenexa senior studying music education, is a drum major for the Marching Jayhawks. As a four-year member, Johnson has gone from wide-eyed freshman to a leader for more than 250 students in the band.
“The freshmen in the band aren’t told about it beforehand, and the surprise is pretty amazing,” Johnson said. “I thought it was one of the coolest experiences I’d had at KU so far.”
Like most traditions, the Hog Calling has changed over time. The entire band gathers arm-in-arm in circles and sings the verse two times. In between verses, a band member gives a short speech while everyone hums along to the melody. Afterwards, everyone huddles up for a ‘What time is it? Game time!’ call and response.
Since the sousaphone section started the tradition 40 years ago, it’s only appropriate that they get their time to shine during each rendition today.
“Each game, a different sousaphone member gives the speech and leads the chant at the end,” Johnson said. “The last game of the season is usually taken by the most senior member of the section.”
Despite the changes, don’t expect to hear complaining from those who were there first.
“I love how it has morphed over the years,” Whitman said. “I like that Hog Calling is our band’s private tradition, and the members are free to modify as they see fit. When we started, it was four guys singing at a single run-in line and believe me, even after we graduated we had no idea that the younger students would keep it up!”
The other KU team
As a group of students that commit their free time three days a week to practice—plus gamedays, which are often all-day affairs— the Marching Jayhawks share a bond in their passion for the University, the music, and each other: the other KU team that plays on Saturdays on the hill.
“The band is a family, often as close-knit as any greek house or other similar organization,” Whitman said. “We aren’t all music majors, in fact I think a majority are not. But we love playing, being part of the game day experience, and being a part of one of the best marching band programs around.”
KU’s 105th Homecoming celebration, Jayhawks of the Galaxy, takes place Oct. 1-7, 2017. All alumni are invited to return to their alma mater, including Marching Jayhawks. Band alumni return to Memorial Stadium every Homecoming to march on the field— and join in the hog calling! For a full list of activities and events during Homecoming week, visit the Homecoming website. Homecoming is sponsored by Crown Toyota Volkswagen.