On Friday, September 22, Kansas Athletics and the Williams Education Fund launched Raise The Chant, a $350-million fundraising campaign, focused primarily on a major renovation of Memorial Stadium.
University of Kansas Chancellor Doug Girod and Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger presented renderings of the multi-million dollar project, lead by a $50 million pledge from Kansas alumnus and benefactor David Booth, c’68, g’69.
The Booth gift will launch facility improvements with the construction of an indoor football practice facility immediately following the 2017 season. Improvements to the south end zone and the west side of the stadium will follow after the completion of the 2018 season, with enhancements to the north end zone and the stadium’s east side to begin later.
“In listening to Sheahon’s vision of many years,” Booth said, “and believing in where Coach Self’s program is and where Coach Beaty’s program is headed, I am proud to support my alma mater’s athletic program. I believe Sheahon’s plan for football and basketball is essential not only to the future of Kansas Athletics, but also to the university as a whole.”
“The Raise The Chant campaign, with its primary focus on football, addresses an institutional priority for the University of Kansas,” Chancellor Girod said. “A competitive football program benefits the entire university and is important for KU to continue being a strong member of the Big 12 Conference. In recent years, we have transformed the university with nearly $1 billion in new and renovated facilities, and this is the next step in that transformation. I have the utmost confidence in Sheahon and believe we have the right people at the right time for this campaign.”
The campaign continues a trend of rapid growth in athletic facilities, including soccer, track and field, softball and tennis at Rock Chalk Park, and the construction of the DeBruce Center, home of the original rules of basketball, and McCarthy Hall, where the men’s basketball team and other students reside.
Also announced as part of the campaign was a $10 million pledge from volleyball benefactor Stewart Horejsi, b’59, and his family, to build a new, 3,000 arena for the defending Big 12 volleyball champions. Baseball’s long-time home, Hoglund Ballpark, is also in line for renovations and improvements during the “Raise the Chant” campaign.
“We want to extend a heartfelt thanks to our generous donors,” Zenger continued, “in particular David Booth, and Stewart Horejsi and his family. They, once again, have not only bought in to our vision of what Kansas Athletics can be, but also have actively participated in that vision. We appreciate very much the leadership they have shown, and we are confident that others will follow their lead and help make that vision a reality. I’d also like to express our appreciation to Dale Seuferling and the KU Endowment Association for its leadership as we embark on this important campaign.”
Chancellor Douglas A. Girod sent the message below to all KU faculty and staff today.
Raise the Chant
This past Friday, I joined Kansas Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger to announce Raise the Chant, a $350 million fundraising project focused on football. This visionary project addresses the reality that a competitive football program is important to our university and that our outdated facilities hinder our ability to compete with Big 12 Conference peers. Today I’d like to discuss this exciting effort and why it needs to be one of KU’s institutional priorities.
First and foremost, a competitive football program benefits the entire university. In terms of recruiting new students, football is often the front door for prospective Jayhawks, particularly given our increasingly national recruitment strategy. The truth is, a massive Jayhawk at the 50-yard-line on national TV can help keep KU at the top of mind for students we’re recruiting. Additionally, football keeps KU alumni connected to their alma mater – which often translates to donations and networking opportunities – and produces revenue through merchandising, which benefits the entire institution.
We need to remain a strong member of the Big 12, and football is key to that. Membership in a major conference has enormous benefits – including TV contract revenue, branding and prestige – that strengthen every aspect of KU’s mission. More broadly, being in a major conference is tied to our goal to continue being a strong member of the Association of American Universities.
In recent years, KU has transformed its campuses in a thoughtful, strategic way. Since 2009, we’ve completed $1 billion in construction for new and renovated facilities, including the Health Education Building, Capitol Federal Hall, Self and Oswald Halls, the Spencer Art Museum, Swarthout Recital Hall, and the Central District. At the same time, our Far Above campaign funded 735 new scholarships and fellowships and 53 new professorships. In other words, we’ve begun to modernize our campuses with a focus on our academic mission. We will continue our work in this area, and Memorial Stadium is an important part of the next phase of our transformation.
I want to reiterate my confidence in Sheahon and his vision. While we’ve had challenges in football, Kansas Athletics has had many successes – on and off the field – under Sheahon’s leadership. He’s a man of integrity, and he’s a Jayhawk to the core. Moreover, I share his belief that Coach Beaty has us headed in the right direction. Put simply, I believe we have the right people for the right time. Our focus now is getting these people the right tools to succeed.
I’ve been a Jayhawk for 23 years, and the passion of our friends and donors never ceases to amaze me. I am excited to work with them – and with you! – to advance this transformational project on behalf of our university.
“What a great day to be a Jayhawk!” coach David Beaty shouted, his raspy voice barely audible amid the chaos that swarmed across Memorial Stadium’s field after KU upset Texas, 24-21, in an overtime thriller that gave Beaty his first Big 12 victory and the Jayhawks’ first in the conference since 2014.
Beaty of course was spot-on with the sentiment, but the time element was off. While football’s first victory over Texas since 1938 scored the national headlines, it was more than a great day to be a Jayhawk: From Sunday to Sunday, it was a week for the athletics ages.
Soccer sets the tone
Soccer set the tone on Sunday, Nov. 13, at Rock Chalk Park, when junior Lois Heuchan scored 40 seconds into double overtime to give the Jayhawks a 1-0 victory over Missouri in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. (The Jayhawks’ second-round loss, 2-0 Nov. 18 at North Carolina, was only their third loss since mid-September.)
Men’s basketball was up next, as the Jayhawks avoided their first 0-2 start since 1972 by beating top-ranked Duke, 77-75, Tuesday in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Frank Mason’s game-winning field goal with 1.8 seconds remaining was one of KU’s most thrilling shots since Mario Chalmers nailed a three-pointer to send the 2008 national championship game into overtime.
“That was quite a play we called: ‘Just get out of his way,’” coach Bill Self said afterward. “He’s a stud.”
Recruit chooses Kansas
Billy Preston, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward from Los Angeles kept the buzz going Friday afternoon when he released a video announcing his college selection. Dressed in uniforms from his four finalists—KU, Indiana, USC and Syracuse—Preston played a magic-of-film one-on-one game against himself, at the end of which he turns to the camera and announces, “Rock Chalk, Jayhawks.”
Just a few hours later, Preston’s future team beat Siena, 86-65, running Self’s home record to 207-9 and passing Ted Owens on the list of all-time victories in Allen Field House.
“He’s a special coach and this is a special place,” sophomore forward Carlton Bragg Jr. said afterward. “You put those two things together and special things happen.”
Volleyball clinches championship
About 13 hours later, at 11 a.m. Saturday morning, volleyball began its final regular-season home match. Although they played without junior All-American Kelsie Payne, who injured an ankle in KU’s five-set victory Nov. 16 at West Virginia, the Jayhawks fought through another tough five-setter to defeat Iowa State and clinch at least a share of their first Big 12 championship.
“It could have been a disaster, or it could have been the best day ever, and they decided to make it the best day ever,” said coach Ray Bechard. “Our seniors weren’t going to let us lose.”
Swimmer hits career-best mark
Saturday’s action was not limited to Lawrence: freshman Jenny Nusbaum won the 200-yard freestyle at the Kansas Classic swim meet in Topeka’s Capitol Federal Natatorium with a career-best mark of 1 minute, 48.97 seconds, and she helped her team to a 7.34-second victory in the 800-yard freestyle relay.
Cross-country makes history
On a wintry morning in Terre Haute, Indiana, sophomore Sharon Lokedi ran fifth at the NCAA cross-country championships, the best NCAA finish in the history of KU women’s cross-country and the best by any Jayhawk since John Lawson won the men’s meet in 1965.
“When it’s cold and windy like it was today, you never know what might happen in a race like this,” Lokedi said. “So my plan was just to stay up at the front, stay with the leaders and be ready for anything.”
Football upsets Texas
On a chilly afternoon and evening in Memorial Stadium, the football ’Hawks offered the first hint of a possible upset by taking a 10-7 lead into halftime against Texas. But, KU came out flat in the third quarter, and when D’Onta Foreman scored his second touchdown of the second half with 13:34 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Longhorns a 21-10 lead.
The game looked hopelessly out of reach to fans and commentators, but players never saw it that way.
“They are some resilient tough dudes,” Beaty said. “They kept believing. They kept working.”
With 10 minutes remaining in regulation, redshirt freshman quarterback Carter Stanley jolted the KU offense to life with a 20-yard run, which was immediately followed by a 15-yard run by freshman running back Khalil Herbert that set the Jayhawks up at the Texas 45 yard line. Herbert scored seven plays later on a 1-yard run, and sophomore receiver Steven Sims Jr. converted a two-point conversion to push KU to within three, 21-18, with 7:48 remaining.
Freshman safety Mike Lee halted a Texas scoring threat on the ensuing drive when he forced Foreman to fumble at the KU 13-yard-line. Senior defensive end Cameron Rosser pounced on the loose ball, the Longhorns’ fifth turnover of the game. KU then gave the ball back on downs, but when Texas tried to close the game out by converting on fourth and 5 from the KU 32, sophomore linebacker Keith Loneker Jr. scored the biggest of his game-high 16 tackles by stopping Foreman 2 yards short.
The Jayhawks took over on their own 29 with 58 seconds remaining. Three receptions by senior running back Ke’aun Kinner and a 15-yard penalty against Texas set KU up at the Longhorns’ 19, where, with seven seconds left in regulation, senior Matthew Wyman tied the game with a 36-yard field goal.
On the second play of overtime Lee again stepped up big, intercepting a Texas pass. Needing only a field goal to win, KU pushed forward behind five Kinner rushes, allowing Wyman to win the game with a 25-yard field goal.
The season finale awaits Saturday at Kansas State, but that rivalry’s renewal was on nobody’s mind as the Jayhawks celebrated madly.
Well, almost nobody’s.
“We have a huge, huge mountain to climb to get ready to play those guys,” Beaty said. “But it’s going to be a lot easier and a lot more fun preparing tomorrow with the result we got today.”
Women’s basketball team closes week with a win
And still more was yet to come: Women’s basketball closed out the remarkable week that was with a 68-58 victory at Memphis, the Jayhawks’ first win of the season and the first regular-season road victory for second-year coach Brandon Schneider.
The Adams Alumni Center lawn was full of students Friday as the popular Home Football Friday event returned.
Home Football Friday is hosted by the Student Alumni Association and is held from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on the Friday before every home football game. The event is open to all KU students and features a free lunch, music, and giveaways.
A surprised guest made an appearance at the first event of the season: David Beaty, head football coach, stopped by to visit with students.
This season’s Home Football Fridays are sponsored by Truity Credit Union.
Check out pictures from the event in the slideshow below, or click here to view the photos on Flickr.
The threat of stormy weather didn’t deter nearly 4,000 Jayhawks from packing Corinth Square in Prairie Village Aug. 26 for the 11th-annual KU Kickoff, hosted by the Alumni Association and Kansas Athletics. The evening began with DJ Carl spinning tunes while the crowd enjoyed food and drink tents, a fun zone for children, a sesquicentennial display by KU Libraries, Jayhawk merchandise giveaways, and Big Jay and Baby Jay, who kept the atmosphere lively with the help of the KU spirit squad and marching band.
Jayhawk Radio Network broadcaster David Lawrence, d’83, introduced Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, president of the Alumni Association, who thanked Kansas City area alumni and volunteers for their support and detailed several of the University’s recent accomplishments, including the Far Above campaign, which raised more than $1.6 billion for KU. “I don’t know about you,” he said, “but I’m fired up to be a Jayhawk right now.”
Sheahon Zenger, PhD’96, KU athletics director, spoke of the new construction on campus, including McCarthy Hall, the DeBruce Center and Capitol Federal Hall, and encouraged alumni to visit KU’s ever-changing landscape. After giving a shout-out to the No. 5-ranked KU women’s volleyball team, which opened the season with a win against Mississippi State that evening, Zenger turned his attention to head football coach David Beaty and said, “If there’s anything fun at KU right now, it’s being around coach Beaty and his team.”
Joined by football players LaQuvionte Gonzalez, Dorance Armstrong Jr., Daylon Charlot and Fish Smithson, Beaty summoned fans to fill the Hill and Memorial Stadium Sept. 3 for the opening game against Rhode Island. “It’s going to take a great fan base like all of you Jayhawks to get it done,” he said. “We thank you for your unwavering support and staying with us through all the rough times. You’ll have something to be proud of real soon.”
Watch the slideshow below to see pictures from KU Kickoff, or click here to view the photos on Flickr. Photos are available to be downloaded for personal use. All photos by Dan Storey.
Kansas City alumni and fans of KU will gather again at the KU Kickoff at Corinth Square this Friday, August 26, from 6-9 p.m.
The KU Alumni Association, in partnership with Kansas Athletics, will welcome our largest annual gathering of alumni in Kansas City. Jayhawks will hear from David Beaty, head football coach; Heath Peterson, president of the KU Alumni Association; and other KU speakers who will provide updates and pep talks to get the crowd pumped for another great year at KU. Like last year, there will be inflatable games for the kids, food, drinks, KU giveaways and entertainment from the KU Band, Spirit Squad and Big Jay and Baby Jay. Association members are encouraged to stop by the KU Alumni Association table to receive a free member appreciation gift (so don’t forget your membership card!). The KU Kickoff is sponsored by Shawnee Mission Health. Learn more here.
Speaking of pep talks
We’ve found a sure-fire way to get you fired up for fall. Coach Bill Self was a special guest at KU Football Training Camp this week where he addressed the team. Coach Self’s talk will get you ready to head to Memorial Stadium to support the Jayhawks this fall. It might even make you want to suit up and hit the field! See what we mean in the video below, shared on Twitter by our friends at Time Warner Cable Sports Channel in Kansas City, @TWCsportsKC.
Saturday’s Sunflower Showdown against Kansas State just got even more momentous, with Tuesday’s announcement that the 3 p.m. game in Memorial Stadium will be the football finale for beloved broadcaster Bob Davis.
Davis, who joined the Jayhawk Radio Network in 1984, will retire after 32 years as Voice of the Jayhawks following the conclusion of the men’s basketball season.
“Bob Davis,” says Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger, PhD’96, “is an institution in the state of Kansas.”
Davis graduated from Topeka West High School and Washburn University, and in 1968 began his broadcasting career for a TV and radio station in Hays. He spent 16 years broadcasting sports for Fort Hays State University, and was inducted in the school’s Sports Hall of Fame.
After joining the legendary Max Falkenstien, c’47, on KU sports broadcasts, Davis continued to expand his reach across the regional sports spectrum: Among numerous other assignments, Davis did play-by-play calls for Kansas City Royals’ TV and radio broadcasts for 16 seasons and spent 20 years as a morning sports anchor with KMBZ radio in Kansas City.
He was named Kansas Sportscaster of the Year 13 times, and in 1991 the Kansas Association of Broadcasters presented him the Hod Humiston Award for Contributions to Sports Broadcasting.
“The people are what made it amazing,” Davis says. “All the people I’ve been able to get close to—great players, the coaching staffs, administrators. I’m going to miss it a lot. It’s been really fun. I’ve also been able to tack on a little baseball on the other side; that, too, was a dream come true. It’s been a lucky situation for me.”
Despite a long career covering high school, college and professional sports, Davis will always be best known to sports fans as the Voice of the Jayhawks. Among those lucky enough to get to know Davis away from stadiums and arenas, he is treasured for good humor and lively conversation.
“Not only is he good at his job, he’s a terrific person,” says men’s basketball coach Bill Self. “He’s fun and has become a very dear friend. I’m happy for him, from a retirement standpoint, so maybe he can enjoy those grandkids a little bit more, which I know is important for him and Linda. But certainly he will be missed.”
Says football coach David Beaty, “Bob, along with Max Falkenstien, is truly a living historian of Kansas athletics and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work alongside him this year. Bob has one of the most recognizable voices in all of sports, a voice that has captured some of the greatest moments in Kansas athletics history. His voice is synonymous with KU and makes you feel great about being a Jayhawk.”
A nationwide search for Davis’ successor will begin next spring. Interested candidates should direct inquiries to Chris Ferris of IMG College at Chris.Ferris@img.com.
More than 1,000 students eager to find their niche on campus flocked to Saturday’s Hawkfest to learn more about KU student organizations. KU has more than 600 registered student groups, and nearly 150 of those participated in the event, which was a prelude to Traditions Night in Memorial Stadium.
Junior Jack Bruntzel of the KU Boxing Club gave a boxing demonstration to help pique the interest of his fellows Jayhawks. “So far at our booth, we’ve been averaging a person a minute. We were here last year. We’re having a far better turnout this year, doing these demonstrations, creating a hype has helped people see what we do,” said Bruntzel.
Across the bustling parking lot, Eric Oduniyi, a sophomore member of the National Society of Black Engineers, talked with many interested students. “Hawkfest is really important for groups like ours to try and attract first-year students because after I graduate, I want to make sure there are students behind me to keep it going. It’s all about making sure everyone’s learning and inheriting the necessary information to be successful in their own fields,” said Oduniyi.
Jayhawks of all ages turned out in force Aug. 21 for the annual KU Kickoff at Corinth Square in Prairie Village, hosted by the Alumni Association and Kansas Athletics. Taking advantage of a cool August night, KU families filled the shopping center’s parking lot to share Jayhawk spirit and enjoy performances by the KU Band and Spirit Squad, a fun zone and face painting for the children, and rousing remarks from KU leaders.
Heath Peterson, interim president of the Alumni Association, welcomed the crowd to the annual finale of the ’Hawk Days of Summer and the start of a new school year and football season. “We are ready for a fun fall, and there is no better way to kick it off than in the heart of Jayhawk Country,” said Peterson, c’04, g’09. He thanked alumni and friends for their loyalty as Association members and volunteers.
Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger, PhD’96, encouraged alumni to visit the new DeBruce Center, which will house James Naismith’s Rules of Basketball and host numerous student activities. He praised new football coach David Beaty and new women’s basketball coach Brandon Schneider as “blue-collar, roll-up-your sleeves Kansas guys who speak from the heart.”
Schneider said he had “never been around a university and an athletics department that approach every day with more pride and more passion than we do at the University of Kansas.”
Beaty praised the energy of his young football team, which opens the season Sept. 5 against South Dakota State, and he urged alumni and friends to pack Memorial Stadium. “You are the magic,” he said. “We need that stadium loaded and rockin’.”
Following the Alma Mater and Rock Chalk Chant, the event continued to rock, thanks to a performance by the Lawrence band Coversmith.
The Salina Steak Out has become a favorite summer tradition for Jayhawks in North Central Kansas. More than 140 alumni and friends enjoyed KU camaraderie on Friday, May 29, and heard a campus update from Rick Ginsberg, dean of the School of Education. Dr. Doug Girod, executive vice chancellor, spoke about the KU Medical Center and head football coach David Beaty shared his excitement for the upcoming season. Former Jayhawk athletes Alonzo Jamison, c’07, and Jake Sharp, d’10, were on hand to share some of their greatest memories of KU.