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!
At 6-feet-2, 250 pounds, former KU defensive lineman and part-time fullback TJ Semke knew he was just about the perfect size and body type to play fullback in the NFL. He also knew that NFL offenses no longer feature fullbacks, so career prospects were slim at best.
“That dream kind of died out,” Semke, d’16, says from the North Carolina headquarters of Hendrick Motorsports. “But I still wanted to do something that would keep me competitive and have that locker room feel, be around the guys, and NASCAR ended up being a good fit for that.”
Thrill of victory
Now in his second season with Hendrick Motorsports and his first on the pit crew team for Chase Elliott’s No. 9 Napa Auto Parts Chevrolet, Semke on Aug. 5 got to experience the thrill of victory when Elliott held off the determined Martin Truex Jr. on the Watkins Glen International road course.
It was win No. 1 for Elliott, a third-year driver and son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, and the 250th in the illustrious racing history of Hendrick Motorsports, and nobody celebrated more enthusiastically in victory lane than a jackman from Kansas City who just a few years earlier knew next to nothing about auto racing.
“It was pretty special for Chase to get his first win, and it was the 250th for the company, which is a big deal,” Semke says. “All the pieces fell together and it ended up being a big deal. It was definitely good vibes coming back to work on Monday.”
An unusual path
Even before he became a professional athlete in NASCAR, Semke’s route through athletics was unusual and his story unique.
Semke fractured a vertebra during his junior season at Lee’s Summit North High School; he made it through his senior season while constantly fighting through “a lot of issues with my discs.” When his doctors finally told him to stop playing football, Semke complied and turned down offers to play at Division II colleges.
He grew up a “big MU guy,” and shocked his family when he came to Lawrence and enrolled at KU as a full-time student.
“Something drew me there,” Semke says. “I liked the school when I went on a visit, so I just went there.”
Ripe for recruitment
An energetic and successful student in high school, Semke likewise threw himself into his studies on the Hill, and even worked part-time for his mother’s boyfriend’s bail bond business, tracking down absconders who skipped court dates.
Although work as a bounty hunter provided the occasional adrenaline rush he still craved, it wasn’t the same as football. After two years away from the sport, Semke was ripe for recruitment when he noticed a University Daily Kansan advertisement announcing open tryouts for football walk-ons.
He tried out during the spring of his sophomore year, made the team, and entered his junior year with sophomore standing in football. A natural fullback in a pro-style offense with little need for fullbacks, Semke fashioned himself a high-energy playmaker on special teams; during practice, though, he moved to the scout team’s defensive line.
Putting in the work
“I was a little bit undersized for that,” he says, “but I was just out there every day, working hard, making plays, and I kind of got noticed. So they thought, why don’t we give this a shot? That whole next spring, my redshirt junior year, they put in a lot of time with me, getting me ready to play, and I ended up starting the first six games of my junior year on the defensive line.”
After being featured in Sports Illustrated thanks to his bounty-hunter background, Semke played defensive end as a senior, along with fullback when necessary—like Turner Gill before him, coach Charlie Weis rarely featured fullbacks—and when his KU playing days were done Semke began focusing on the NFL. He performed well at his Pro Day workouts, earning a workout with the Kansas City Chiefs and a minicamp invitation from the New Orleans Saints.
Leaving football behind
Realistic about his chances, Semke left football behind for good when he was invited to join more than 100 other candidates for pit-crew tryouts at Hendrick headquarters.
Hendrick, it turns out, sends a pit-crew coach out on the road with its race teams, and he spends race weeks visiting collegiate football program near every track, searching for potential recruits. At Kansas Speedway, KU coaches put in a good word for Semke, touting his speed, strength, attitude and energy.
Semke lived up the billing he received from his former football coaches, and in spring 2016 he was introduced as one of five new pit crew recruits at Hendrick’s second Signing Day event.
He spent his first full season learning the jackman’s job on a variety of teams and racing series, and this year was named a full-time member on Elliott’s No. 9 Camaro.
Steep learning curve
“TJ is a pretty special guy,” says veteran crew chief Alan Gustafson. “He’s physically gifted, to say the least, to be that big and that fast and strong. He’s a really competitive guy and a fun guy to have on our team. We’ve been really impressed with him and his ability with relatively no experience pitting the car. His learning curve has been amazing. We expect really big things from him in the future.”
Semke’s learning curve got steeper this season when NASCAR announced new pit-lane regulations that allowed for only five crew members over the wall during races, rather than the previous limit of six. That meant double-duty for someone on each crew, and Hendrick’s solution was to make the jackman also responsible for putting on tires, all within the 13-second timeframe of a high-pressure pit stop.
“You have double the work and you’re still trying to be fast,” Semke says. “It presented a lot of challenges, but that’s kind of what’s fun about it. We have a bunch of athletic guys who know how to adapt and change, so it worked out in our favor.”
Brains and brawn
As expected, Semke relishes the vigorous physical environment at Hendrick, where pit crews lift weights under the supervision of a team of trainers, go through full-speed pit training and even spend Mondays doing yoga to improve flexibility.
Perhaps not as expected, though, is the intelligence Semke brings to the team, which pays off in the team’s constant film study. He was named Academic All-Big 12 and graduated with at 3.1 GPA.
“A lot of people might look at me—the tattoos, and I’m a big, strong guy—and they might think, ‘Oh, this guy’s just a meathead, a cave-man type of guy, eats a bunch of meat.’ At a glance you might just think that’s what I am.
“But anything I do I want to be really good at it. I can hit the books and I can hit the weights, both. It definitely feels good to have a degree from the University of Kansas, that’s for sure.”
TJ Semke, No. 9 team jackman, gives fans a closer look inside the Hendrick Motorsports heat training program.
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.
Jenni Carlson returned to her alma mater for J-School Generations, an annual reunion during Homecoming weekend. The event invites alumni back to the William Allen White School of Journalism to reconnect with students and faculty. Carlson, j’97, was a speaker for J-Talk, a TED-style lecture event where she and other alumni shared their stories.
Carlson has served as sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, but she might be most well-known for a column that led Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy to one of the most famous rants in sports history. Carlson shared her story of that experience, the aftermath, and how it shaped the rest of her career. Watch her J-Talk or read the transcript below.
Ten years ago last month, Mike Gundy, the football coach at Oklahoma State, turned a post-game press conference on its head.
Even though his team had just won a big game, he was angry. So angry that he raised his voice. And pointed. And ranted. He was fuming about a column that ran that morning in a local newspaper. He said it was false. He said it was garbage.
His rant became one of the most memorable tirades in sports history. You can Google it right now and find it. Well, maybe not right now. Maybe wait until Kameron gets up here for his J-Talk!
But you’ve no doubt heard the most memorable line of the rant — “I’m a man, I’m 40.”
The rant was long. The rant was personal.
And the rant was directed at me.
Now, there are a lot of things that I could tell you about that day. Truth be told, a lot has been written and said about The Rant here recently because this is the 10th anniversary of it. Also, Mike celebrated his 50th birthday here recently, so while he may very well be a man, he certainly isn’t 40 anymore.
At my newspaper, The Oklahoman – which was my employer when The Rant happened, and yes, by the way, it is STILL my employer! – we did some things on Mike Gundy’s birthday and on the anniversary of The Rant. But really, it’s been interesting for me to watch what OTHERS have done. Their storylines. Their takes. Their analysis.
And one of the things that I’ve noticed is this – I am not central to the story.
Sometimes, my name isn’t even used. Many stories refer to a reporter or maybe even a columnist. But even if my name is used, there’s not a ton written or said about me.
And that is magnificent.
It warms my heart.
Now, don’t misunderstand – I’m not saying that because I want to distance myself from what I wrote. The column that sparked The Rant was about a change that Oklahoma State made at quarterback. That position is a pretty big deal in football, and it was made even bigger at OSU by the fact that the Cowboys had decided to bench a guy who had been – and still is – one of the most high-profile recruits in program history.
But when OSU’s coaches were asked publicly about why the change was being made from one starter to another, their explanations weren’t jiving with what our reporters knew to be true. They said the original starter was hurt, but there was more to it than they were saying.
I believe with every fiber in my being that what I wrote was not only accurate but also necessary for our coverage. OSU’s fans wanted to know why their team was going from a ballyhooed quarterback to a guy who had largely been under the radar, and with the help of our beat writers, that column provided some answers.
The original starter just wasn’t the leader that the coaches wanted. The new guy was, and in retrospect, the change was a great move. The new guy became one of the most successful quarterbacks and most beloved players of all time at OSU.
But no one knew how things would go at the time. Instead, our readers were trying to figure out why the change had been made. My column helped put the pieces of the puzzle together.
So, again, the reason that I’m happy about my name and my role in The Rant fading is not because I want to disassociate myself from what I wrote. Rather, I’m happy about that because I believe it’s a reflection of how I handled the whole situation.
Now, I’m not going to lie to you and say that handling the fallout was easy.
It was very, very difficult.
In the days that followed, all sorts of local and national media wanted to talk to me. When The Rant happened, YouTube was only a couple years old. I’m gonna guess that The Rant might’ve been one of the first videos to truly go viral on YouTube. It was everywhere, and weirdly for me, so was I. SportsCenter. Good Morning America. USA Today. On and on.
I only did a couple interviews because after a few days, my editors decided that we weren’t going to discuss The Rant anymore. Again, it wasn’t because we didn’t stand behind what had been written; I actually asked Mike, Coach Gundy, at his weekly press conference a few days after The Rant to outline any factual errors in the column. He’d said that the column was false, and we have a policy of correcting errors that appear in our newspaper, I gave him the chance to provide me a list of errors so that I might correct them.
He offered none.
So, after writing about that, I didn’t write another word about The Rant until last month. TEN YEARS. I can’t say I didn’t casually throw in a catchphrase from The Rant from time to time – “That ain’t true!” is a favorite that appeared in a few of my columns – but I stayed true to the decision that my editors made.
What we did – and I say we because I felt very much part of a team, very much supported by the newsroom in the days after The Rant – we did because we had work to do. We had some really good teams and really big things going on in our sports world that fall. We had to get on about the business of covering the teams, the sports, the games. We had to write stories and columns. We had to do videos and blogs. We had to edit and design.
And that’s what we did.
But even though we stopped talking and writing about The Rant, that doesn’t mean everyone else did. For weeks, maybe even longer, I received emails about the whole thing. I have to admit that while I believe reader feedback is an extremely important part of what I do, I didn’t read all those emails. To this day, I haven’t read all those emails.
There were times when they were hitting my inbox so fast that it was like a Tweetdeck newsfeed during the Super Bowl. One right after the other.
And even though I didn’t read every word of every email, I know that many of them were critical. Some were angry. Some were furious. Some were vile.
There were funny ones. Or at least I thought they were funny! People told me that I needed to go back into the kitchen and bake some cookies. (Joke’s on them – because in our house, it’s my husband who does the cooking. Or at least the cooking that’s edible!) But there were also emails that degraded me, threatened me.
Things I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
Those sorts of things are, unfortunately, something that I have to deal with from time to time. Even though this is 2017 – or maybe it’s BECAUSE this is 2017 and the media is under attack these days from the highest elected positions to the lowest common denominators – the media has become a big target.
Big picture – I believe it’s because, right now, people in our country are fearful. Mad. Scared. And lots of times, they take that out on reporters.
Then in my situation, you add in the fact that I’m a woman telling people how they should feel about sports? It only adds to some people’s fears. I truly believe that a lot of the vitriol leveled at women in sports media comes from men who are scared. Scared that one more of “their areas” is being taken away from them. Scared that women writing and talking and pontificating about sports is a sign that “their control” is slipping away.
Listen, I’m all for people disagreeing with me. If they have a different opinion than I do, great. If they see something another way than I do, OK. Let’s talk about it. But when people see a difference of opinion as an opportunity to attack me personally, that isn’t OK.
But here’s the thing – I get to choose how those things affect me.
(The “mute” button on Twitter is a wonderful, beautiful function, by the way!)
There was a time when ugly comments and hurtful emails did affect me. They made me wonder, “Am I any good at my job? Am I qualified?” Or worse, “Am I in this position just because I’m a woman?”
But then I realized that I have a lot of co-workers who like what I do. Same for a good number of respected folks in sports media. They like my writing. They like my ideas. So, why would I allow the words of a reader to carry more weight than their words? Why would the criticism carry more weight than the praise?
It’s human nature, I suppose. How many times have we heard athletes and coaches say they remember the losses way more than the wins? I suppose it’s the same with criticism and praise.
Which brings us back to The Rant.
That criticism was tough. The criticism in the moment. The criticism that followed. But I got to decide how it was going to affect me and how I was going to react.
I didn’t lambast Gundy. I didn’t crucify OSU. I didn’t take a flamethrower to everyone and everything who came after me.
That approach isn’t the way most people want to do business these days. Most people want to fight fire with fire. And hey, I believe that there are times to do that – to fight. You can Google my name and Baylor, and since news of their sexual assault cover-up broke, you’ll see that I’m not opposed to fighting for what I think is right.
But in the aftermath of The Rant, I thought that the right thing to do was to get on about the business of doing my job. I had games to cover. I had columns to write.
Wallowing in what had happened wasn’t going to do anyone any good. Not our readers. Not our newspaper. And certainly not me.
One of my good friends who just happens to be one of my editors tells me regularly that I have the thickest skin of anyone he’s ever known. I don’t know about thick skin, but here’s what I do know – my job comes with pressure and stress, but there’s the pressure and stress that I have and then there’s real, hard-core pressure and stress. Try being a Kansas farmer in the 1980s when prices were taking a nose dive and family farms were drying up. That’s what I saw my parents go through.
I know what pressure and stress really is.
I’m just a sports columnist.
Perspective is crucial.
I always remember that there are way bigger issues in the world than the ones I’m facing. Finding ways to continually get that perspective is vital to me. Tutoring at an inner-city school. Driving a van for an after-school program. Teaching a kids’ Sunday school class.
I can’t tell you how to handle tough situations that come your way, but I can tell you that if you’re in the media business very long, tough situations will come your way. I know it’s difficult right now for a lot of you who are in college to think about anything other than your career. You want to get started. You want to sell out to the job.
I was you once upon a time.
But I have found that being able to handle those critical emails, those mean tweets and yes, even the occasional post-game rant that goes viral, knowing who you are and what matters to you is crucial.
It’s not about thick skin – it’s about being comfortable in the skin you have.
—Transcript of Jenni Carlson’s remarks at J-School Generations. The University of Kansas football team takes on Oklahoma State, coached by Mike Gundy, at Memorial Stadium this weekend in its final football game of the season.
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 A-a-men!”
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.
Keon Stowers, c’15, assists with student programs for the KU Alumni Association, including advising the Student Alumni Leadership Board. Previously, he represented the KU Office of Admissions helping to recruit first generation and underrepresented students to campus. Keon served as a two-time team captain for KU Football and was featured on Big 12’s Champions for Life series. When Keon isn’t spending time with his beautiful family, he can be found manning the BBQ pit.
I became a Jayhawk because…
When I first got a call from KU I actually had to look on the United States map to find where Kansas was. But after visiting KU for my official recruitment visit, I fell in love with the people. Most importantly, I fell in love with this school and everything the Jayhawk stands for. Now I get the honor of raising two little Jayhawks!
How has KU propelled you into your current career?
After graduating and moving home for a year I returned to KU seeking job opportunities, and that’s where I found an opportunity to work in our Office of Admissions as a recruiter. During my time there I learned so much more about the university and what we have to offer here. I truly believe that my past experience working in the office of admissions has given me great insight on my new role here as Assistant Director of Student Programs.
What’s your favorite spot on campus?
Having lunch at the Market in the Union. It gives the perfect view of Memorial Stadium on a beautiful Lawrence day!
My favorite KU memory is…
Snapping the horrible Big 12 losing streak against WVU and celebrating with the student section as they rushed the field. It was only our second win that season but it was our Super Bowl and I’ll never forget that game and the euphoric feeling of celebrating with my peers.
My best advice for college students is…
Get involved on campus early. KU has more than 600 student clubs and organizations, pick one and join. That way, you have an immediate cohort of friends to lean on when college gets tough. Also, it gives you a chance to build relationships and build your network for professional opportunities after you walk the hill.
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.
The KU Alumni Association partnered with the University of Kansas, Kansas Athletics, Inc., and KU Endowment in support of a “Houston Strong” initiative. At the Sept. 2 KU football game, flyers were distributed to fans and a video featuring Chancellor Girod, Coach Bill Self and Coach David Beaty was shown:
Organizations featured as suggested donation options included:
Team Rubicon: Uniting the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams.