Posted on Feb 11, 2020
in Alumni News
The clock hit zero in Miami and red, yellow and white confetti rained down, some featuring tweets from Kansas City Chiefs fans and players. While every Chiefs fan would love to get their hands on a piece as a souvenir, a KU connection landed a full bag in the hands of a local artist with big plans.
Allison Smith, d’05, n’07, g’08, had a previous connection with Ryan Toma, a groundskeeper for the Chiefs and was keeping up with his experience in Miami through Instagram. She saw him post about the tweet confetti and loved it.
Fast forward to the next day, and Kansas City-based artist Megh Knappenberger, f’04, above, asked on Instagram how she could get her hands on some confetti for a project.
“I was on my way to the KU hoops game and happened to see Megh’s Instagram story asking if anyone had a ‘hookup’ or ‘connection’ for the confetti,” Smith says. “So, I messaged Ryan to see if he could spare some. They messaged each other and met up in person on Tuesday afternoon!”
As for the end result … we’ll see! That’s a lot of confetti to clean and dry.
Here’s hoping that this isn’t the last celebration for local teams this year. “Fingers crossed for another championship for KU in April 2020,” Smith says. “I’ve got a good feeling!”
Posted on Nov 26, 2019
in Alumni News
Marcus Herford, Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year in 2007 and a member of KU’s victorious Orange Bowl team that season, is, more than a decade later, living his best life, coaching football and winning championships. That much is, more or less, going to script.
The part he never saw coming? Most of Herford’s players, fellow coaches, team ownership and fans speak English, if at all, as a second language. Turns out, coaching—or, more precisely, teaching—American football in Italy, Germany and Brazil offers unexpected joys.
“It’s football at its purest moment,” Herford says from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, shortly after joining Galo Futebol Americano as offensive coordinator. “They play with passion and enthusiasm. It definitely makes coaching that much more fun.”
Herford, c’09, a Dallas native, was in his first coaching job, at Valdosta State University in Georgia, when he was introduced to overseas football while watching clips posted by former KU teammate Jocques Crawford, ’10.
“He was tearing it up,” Herford recalls. “I’m like, man, where is this? He told me everything, as far as getting overseas and how to get looked at.”
Herford’s overseas playing career didn’t last long, with brief stints in France and Turkey in 2011 and ’12. He was newly married at the time, and carrying too much weight, so he returned stateside and accepted a job as passing game coordinator and receivers coach at Kentucky Wesleyan College. When he heard the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes, a dominant team in Germany’s pro league, were looking for an offensive coordinator, he made a snap decision to apply.
Herford landed the job, but, three days before arriving in Germany, he learned that Baltic’s head coach, Dan Disch, had resigned to become defensive coordinator at Southern Miss. Baltic promoted Herford to the top job and he led the Hurricanes to within one game of the championship in consecutive seasons.
When Herford three years ago joined Seamen Milano, a powerhouse in the Italian league, as offensive coordinator, the club was coming off its third championship in four seasons. Seamen has since twice defended its title, including a 28-point fourth-quarter rally to win Italian Bowl XXXIX last July.
Shortly before that game, Herford was contacted by an international football talent scout who was helping the Galo Roosters hire an offensive coordinator. Rather than drift back to Dallas in the offseason, Herford accepted the gig; not long after he joined Galo, Milano announced it had promoted Herford to head coach for the 2020 season.
“It’s definitely been a blessed ride. My whole coaching career, how things have gone, it’s been pretty awesome. If I complain, I’ll be lying. I’m definitely excited about what’s going on.”
Fans eager to track Marcus Herford’s overseas success can follow him on Twitter, @Coach_MHerford; Seamen Milano streams games on YouTube and the team’s Facebook page.
Posted on Oct 22, 2019
The following announcement was shared with donors and fans of Kansas Athletics on October 21.
Kansas Athletics announced today that an agreement has been made with the University of Missouri to reignite the Border Showdown rivalry that will feature six men’s basketball games, with the first matchup slated for next season on December 12, 2020 at Sprint Center in Kansas City. Until 2012, the Border Showdown was known as the longest continuous rivalry west of the Mississippi River.
“One of the best aspects of college athletics is rivalries, and we are thrilled that our fans and student-athletes will get to experience this Border Showdown rivalry once-again,” said Director of Athletics Jeff Long. “We have quietly sought input from fans and supporters on the renewal of this series and we believe the overriding sentiments are that this historic rivalry should resume. While this series does not include each of our sports teams competing in the Border Showdown at this stage, we feel this is the first step to expanding it in the future. We are excited for this rivalry to begin anew next year and believe it will be great for all fans of college basketball.”
The Kansas-Missouri basketball series dates back to 1907, when the Jayhawks and Tigers met on back-to-back days in Lawrence on March 11-12, both Missouri wins. Those contests were the first of 269 meetings between the border rivals over the next 105 years, with the Jayhawks building a 174-95 edge in the all-time series. Kansas is 89-33 at home vs. Missouri, including 42-14 in Allen Fieldhouse, 65-53 in Columbia and the series is tied at 4-4 in Mizzou Arena.
Read more at KUathletics.com.
Posted on Sep 23, 2019
in Campus News
The University of Kansas Office of Public Affairs posted the following announcement today. More at: http://publicaffairs.ku.edu/noa
On Monday, September 23, the University of Kansas received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA enforcement staff regarding alleged violations of NCAA bylaws within the Kansas men’s basketball and football programs. The University has begun its detailed review of the Notice and has been granted access to some of the NCAA evidentiary documents for the first time. Per NCAA bylaws, the University has 90 days to submit a Response to the Notice of Allegations to be considered by the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions.
The University’s response will fully and comprehensively present its positions regarding the Notice. In the meantime, though, it is already clear from an initial review that the University will fiercely dispute in detail much of what has been presented.
First and foremost, the University emphasizes that it emphatically rejects the assertion that Adidas and Adidas employees and associates were boosters and agents of the University (as defined by NCAA legislation) during the period of the alleged violations and therefore acting on the University’s behalf when they engaged in alleged violations of NCAA bylaws.
As for the allegations regarding Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bill Self, voluminous evidence demonstrates uncontestably that he did, in fact, promote an atmosphere of compliance and fully monitor his staff. The University firmly and fully supports Coach Self and his staff.
Regarding the self-reported football violations, the University’s monitoring systems worked to identify the issues, and KU self-reported violations to the NCAA related to the conduct of two members of the previous coaching staff. Those involved in the football violations are no longer associated with the University.
The University strongly disagrees with the assertion that it “lacks of institutional control.” In fact, the University believes that the record will demonstrate just the opposite. The University of Kansas takes seriously all NCAA and Big XII bylaws, consistently provides education to its staff members, and monitors its programs to ensure compliance with these bylaws. Additionally, the University has taken several actions to enhance its already strong compliance programs. Chancellor Doug Girod and Director of Athletics Jeff Long also retained an outside compliance expert to review the entire compliance program and provide recommendations, if warranted, about opportunities for improvement in light of the changes in the national landscape around college basketball. The report found that our compliance program meets or exceeds industry standard in all facets. Furthermore, the University proactively established a reporting line from the senior compliance administrator directly to the Chancellor and enhanced the frequency and depth of compliance education programs for student-athletes, staff, parents, donors and local businesses. As a result of these actions, the University’s already strong compliance programs are now even more robust.
We understand this is a unique moment in collegiate athletics, and we recognize the NCAA finds itself in a challenging position. But we don’t believe these allegations are the most appropriate way to address long-standing challenges in college basketball.
The University will continue to cooperate with the NCAA enforcement process and looks forward to submitting its Response to the Notice of Allegations, and we will gladly make that response public when it is submitted.
Chancellor Doug Girod:
“The University of Kansas has high standards of ethical conduct for all of our employees, and we take seriously any conduct that is antithetical to our values and mission. While we will accept responsibility for proven violations of NCAA bylaws, we will not shy away from forcefully pushing back on allegations that the facts simply do not substantiate. We stand firmly behind Coach Self and our men’s basketball program, and we will continue to work diligently to do what is right.”
Director of Athletics Jeff Long:
“Obviously, we are disappointed in the allegations leveled against our men’s basketball program as well as our self-reported violations from the previous football staff. We strongly disagree with the allegations regarding men’s basketball. We fully support Coach Self and his staff, and we will vigorously defend the allegations against him and our University. As for the football violations, we fully met the requirements and our responsibility to the NCAA by self-reporting the violations when our compliance procedures uncovered the issues. I am confident in our process to respond to the allegations and look forward to resolving this matter.”
Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bill Self:
“By the NCAA’s own admission through its public statements early this summer, it’s no secret that there is tremendous pressure on the NCAA to respond to the federal court proceedings involving college basketball. Compelled to reassure member institutions and the general public that it can police its member institutions, the NCAA enforcement staff has responded in an unnecessarily aggressive manner in submitting today’s unsubstantiated Notice of Allegations, and I, as well as the University, will vigorously dispute what has been alleged.
In its haste and attempt to regain control, the enforcement staff has created a false narrative regarding me and our basketball program. The narrative is based on innuendo, half-truths, misimpressions and mischaracterizations. In reality, we all know there is only one version of the truth. The truth is based on verifiable facts, and I am confident the facts we will demonstrate in our case will expose the inaccuracies of the enforcement staff’s narrative.
I have always taken pride in my commitment to rules compliance and led programs that operate with integrity and within the rules, and I am proud of the success that we have achieved at each program along the way. Every student-athlete who has ever played for me and their families know we follow the rules.
These allegations are serious and damaging to the University and to myself, and I hate that KU has to go through this process. With our staff’s full cooperation, these allegations will be addressed within NCAA procedures and with urgency and resolve. I will strenuously defend myself and the program, but I will respect the process and will not speak to the details of the case.”
Head Football Coach Les Miles:
“I am confident in the University’s process leading to the self-reported violations arising from the previous football staff. Our entire focus is on the current season and the culture that we are building here at KU. The future is bright for Kansas Football.”
Posted on Aug 27, 2019
Thousands of Jayhawks made the trip to Corinth Square to celebrate a new school year and football season at the 14th annual KU Kickoff, presented by the KU Alumni Association and Kansas Athletics.
Brian Hanni, the voice of the Jayhawks, hosted the event. KU Alumni Association president Heath Peterson, Chancellor Doug Girod, athletics director Jeff Long and head football coach Les Miles all spoke to the Kansas City crowd, thanking them for their continued support of the University and inviting them to David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium for the 2019 football season, beginning with Indiana State on Aug. 31.
Posted on Aug 27, 2019
The Les Miles era in KU football launches at 11 a.m. Saturday, as the Jayhawks take on Indiana State in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. As fans prepare for the much-anticipated premiere, take note of a few new wrinkles planned for the game-day atmosphere, including:
The “preferred” ride-share drop-off point for pregame Uber and Lyft traffic is on Memorial Drive, atop the Hill south of the stadium. A pickup location outside of the postgame traffic pattern has been established for ride-share traffic at metered parking on Indiana Street, in front of HERE Apartments.
Rather than walking down the Hill, players and coaches will now be dropped off at the stadium’s south perimeter, near the practice fields, two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff, and walk from there to the Anderson Family Football Complex. Fans are encouraged to line the walk to greet and cheer on the ‘Hawks.
Watch for players taking the field through a new team tunnel, now outfitted with pyrotechnics, and new high-definition ribbon boards in the north end zone that will feature updated game stats and crowd prompts.
New concessions from Centerplate will include loaded tater tots, cheeseburger rollers, chicken rollers and bacon-wrapped chops.
And, yes, we’ve saved the big news for last: Under KU’s new beer-and-wine sales policy, the following will be available for purchase inside the stadium: Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Goose Island IPA, Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Note that with alcohol sales now permitted inside the stadium, a no re-entry policy will be strictly enforced, and alcohol sales will stop at the end of the third quarter.
Kansas Athletics has partnered with the Jayhawk Buddy System, a student-led safety initiative, to provide four hydration stations throughout the stadium, and fans can bring in one unopened or empty bottle of water per person. In addition, four Designated Driver Stations will be available, one in each corner of the main concourse, and each fan who signs up as a designated driver will receive a voucher for a free Aquafina or Pepsi beverage.
Heading to Lawrence for game day? Find all the information you need to enjoy game day at the University of Kansas, including tailgate information, local shuttles, clear bag policies, and more.
Posted on Jun 21, 2019
in Alumni News
Ross Randall, the coach and mentor who recruited Gary Woodland to the KU men’s golf team after Woodland spent a year playing basketball at Washburn University, was “always to the point. There was no sugarcoating it, at all,” Woodland recalls.
Coach Randall, who passed away two years ago, wasn’t the only KU coach with a straight-talking reputation, and Woodland says he was especially glad to have closed out his first major-tournament victory, Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, so he wouldn’t catch heat when exchanging post-tournament text messages with his pal Bill Self.
“You talk about not sugarcoating anything,” Woodland, c’07, said with a laugh Thursday while driving to his home course in Palm Beach County, Florida, for his first practice session since a three-stroke victory over Brooks Koepka. “Coach has been hard on me at times when I haven’t finished, so I was glad to finish this time so he had nothing bad to say to me. He couldn’t get on me like he does some of his guys.”
Woodland, a Topeka native who now lives with his wife and son in South Florida while also maintaining a home in Lawrence, told Kansas Alumni magazine that he’s eager to return to Kansas and celebrate with family, friends and fans, and he promises he’ll bring along the gorgeous U.S. Open trophy when he does.
That’s down the road. For now, it’s back to work. Woodland entered the U.S. Open No. 9 on the PGA money list and exited at No. 4. He also vaulted from No. 12 in Presidents Cup standings to No. 7; the top eight automatically qualify for the U.S. team in the biennial match between the best American and international (minus Europe) golfers.
The Presidents Cup, this year set for December in Australia, has long been a goal for Woodland, as has the even more prestigious Ryder Cup, which features spirited matches between American and European stars. The next Ryder Cup is Sept. 25-27, 2020, in Wisconsin.
“I’ve always believed in myself, but it’s hard sometimes to get other people to buy in without results,” Woodland said. “I think I’ve proven that I’ve become a more complete player and I belong on the bigger stage. I have to continue to get better and continue to go out and prove myself, but I think I’ve proven that I belong.”
Among other highlights from Kansas Alumni’s conversation with Woodland: He again emphasized the joy he felt in sharing the spotlight with his young friend Amy Bockerstette—a Special Olympics golfer who had her own star turn on NBC’s “Today” show, during which Woodland surprised her with his unannounced visit—and bringing attention to Folds of Honor, an organization founded by retired fighter pilot Maj. Dan Rooney, c’96, g’97, that delivers scholarships to family members of fallen members of the U.S. armed forces.
“I’ve been a huge part of Folds of Honor since 2009, when Major Dan, a fellow Jayhawk, got me to buy in. Men and women who go sacrifice for us to be free and to follow our dreams while they go sacrifice everything, it’s pretty special and it’s an honor to give back.”
Woodland also revealed that he’s spent the past year and a half working on his putting game with his new coach, Pete Cowen. They started retooling his full swing in December, and only recently Cowen also convinced Woodland to change his preshot routine.
“I’ve had the same routine—I’m a creature of habit—since I was in college,” Woodland said. “He changed it all about a month ago and it’s really been clicking for me.”
Told that his inspirational U.S. Open victory had convinced many of his fellow KU basketball fans to now make time to follow him on the PGA Tour, Woodland, who keeps a Jayhawk emblem on his tour bag, affirmed his devotion to the crimson and blue.
“Obviously I’ve been a fan my whole life,” he said, “but I’ve matured, I grew up, I became a man at the University of Kansas, and I’ll never forget that.”
Posted on Jun 20, 2019
KU basketball athletes become legends when they wear the crimson and blue in Allen Fieldhouse. But what they do with that fame is up to them.
Since 2009, the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic has invited KU alumni back to Lawrence for a charity basketball game to raise money for local children fighting cancer.
Check out our online feature to learn more about the charity event that gives area kids in need a night they won’t forget, and the stories of their experiences.
The 2019 Rock Chalk Roundball Classic is Thursday, June 20th at Eudora High School. Tickets are available at 23rd St. Brewery.
Posted on Jun 17, 2019
in Alumni News
Photo Courtesy USGA
KU alumni in professional sports reached a new height Sunday evening as Gary Woodland, c’07, won the 119th U.S. Open to become the first Jayhawk to claim a major golf championship.
Woodland played golf at KU from 2004-2007, after starting his college career at Washburn, where he played basketball.
“I went to Washburn to play basketball and I always believed if basketball didn’t work out then I had golf to fall back on,” said Woodland at a post-tournament press conference. “In our first game we played Kansas, they were ranked No. 1 in Division I. I was guarding Kirk Hinrich and I was like, ‘Okay I need to find something else because this isn’t going to work.'”
A native of Topeka, Kansas, Woodland is a Jayhawk through and through. See for yourself:
Read more on Woodland’s historic victory at Pebble Beach.
Posted on Jun 10, 2019
in Alumni News
Estelle Johnson, a four-year anchor on some of the most stifling defensive units in KU soccer history, this week launched her FIFA World Cup dreams as a member of the Cameroon National Team, which opened its Group E play against Canada Monday in Montpellier, France.
Johnson, c’11, who grew up in Colorado, is eligible for the Cameroon squad because she was born in the Central African country to an American father and Malian mother. Her father, Jerry, worked with subsistence farmers across the continent until moving the family to Fort Collins for a job at Colorado State University when Estelle was 7.
“I had been thinking about playing for Cameroon since 2015,” Johnson told the Sun newspaper, of Edmonton, Canada, shortly before the Cameroon-Canada match, “when I saw them play in the last World Cup.”
Johnson appeared in all 85 games of her four-year KU career, from 2006 to 2009, and was named to multiple All-Region teams. She began her professional career with the short-lived Philadelphia Independence, then stepped away from the game for graduate school at Avila University in Kansas City. After earning her MBA, Johnson returned to professional soccer with the National Women’s Soccer League’s Washington Spirit; she now plays with New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC.
Johnson was unable to reach any team officials in Cameroon until coach Alain Djeumfa took over in January, and she didn’t make her first international appearance with Cameroon until shortly before the World Cup began.
“I’ve been playing professionally now for nine seasons, so I’ve played with some of the best players in the world,” Johnson told the Fort Collins Coloradoan. “Just watching them achieve this and knowing I can hang with them … that’s when it hit me: I think I can do this and I want to actually try to make this happen.”
Cameroon advanced to the second round in its first World Cup four years ago in Canada. After Monday’s match, a 1-0 loss, Johnson and her Cameroon teammates face the Netherlands on Saturday and New Zealand on June 20.