Know the foe: Eastern Kentucky

Posted on Mar 17, 2014 in News and Sports

One year ago, the KU men’s basketball team was preparing to face its first opponent in the NCAA Tournament, and we profiled the Hilltoppers from Western Kentucky in our first Know the foe blog post. This year, the No. 2 seed Jayhawks (24-9) match up with the other half of the Bluegrass state as this year’s edition of Know the foe features No. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky Colonels (24-9), champions of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament. Riding a 7-game winning streak into the postseason, the Colonels are known to beat their opponents from the 3-point line, so it’s only fitting that we share 3 points to know about KU’s first tournament foe:

The Campus Beautiful

Of course, KU is known for its beautiful campus, and alumni fondly recall classes atop “the Hill.” At Eastern Kentucky, the main campus in Richmond is affectionately referred to as “The Campus Beautiful,” and it too is a point of pride for students and alumni. The nickname is a nod to the school’s commitment to green space and landscaping, according to the university’s website at ekuEnrolling 16,000 students and offering more than 150 degree programs, Eastern Kentucky University began as a teachers college in 1906 before it officially became a university in 1966. Today, EKU operates campuses in Corbin, Danville, Hazard, Landcaster, Manchester and Somerset in addition to the main campus in Richmond.

What’s in a name

Bad blood between the blue blood basketball programs in Kansas and Kentucky may seem to focus on the flagship universities’ titles and all-time victories. That may be true, but if you really want to annoy fans of the stories programs, just get their names mixed up. Perhaps nothing is more aggravating to a KU fan than being mistakenly labeled as a “UK” fan (the opposite, of course, would be a compliment). Fortunately, the regional universities in the state have resolved this dilemma by choosing the appropriate acronyms for their edu’s: Western and Eastern Kentucky go by WKU and EKU, respectively. They take their flattery a step further with logos that feature a descending K, similar to the Trajan KU logo. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

EKUcolonelThe Colonel

We thought we’d seen it all with Western Kentucky’s “Big Red” mascot, but hold your horses. Eastern Kentucky’s Colonel has been around since 1963, but before that time, the “Maroons” competed without a mascot (other than a color) until the 1920’s when students voted for a leopard. Efforts to obtain an actual leopard fell through, so the Maroons remained until the Colonel came along. The mascot logo might make some confuse EKU with KFC, but the Colonel’s not going anywhere. Last fall, he survived criticism from a retired faculty member calling for EKU to update the university’s mascot to a more modern symbol, arguing that the Colonel was out-dated and representative of a by-gone era. Newly installed EKU President Michael Benson quickly threw his support behind the Colonel, who remains a popular figure among EKU fans.

To celebrate the snowy conditions in Richmond (classes were delayed today due to snow), the Colonel displayed his best moves while showing off The Campus Beautiful below. Enjoy!

– David Johnston

Do you “know the foe?” Share your insights about KU opponents by emailing us at

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Track champions greeted with ovation from hundreds of fans

Posted on Jun 10, 2013 in News and Sports

As senior triple and long jumper Andrea Geubelle stepped onto James Naismith Court carrying aloft the NCAA women’s track and field championship trophy, flanked by teammates and coaches following close behind, a Sunday afternoon crowd of about 300 stood and cheered the first NCAA championship team in the history of KU women’s athletics. Buoyed by enthusiastic standing ovations, Geubelle told the crowd, “You guys have been amazing teammates. There’s no way we could have done this without you. My four years at KU have been the best of my life, and I will never forget this one.”

KU women’s track stormed to a dominant victory at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, leading after each of the meet’s three days and sealing a 16-point victory Saturday afternoon at the legendary Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

“This is such a big deal,” said vertical jumps coach Tom Hays, himself a former Jayhawk pole vaulter in the 1980s. “The question I have is, are we going to get to go to the White House?”

For complete coverage of the 2013 NCAA champions, see the July issue of Kansas Alumni magazine.

Next up for the top Jayhawks is the USA Championships, June 19-23 in Des Moines, Iowa.

–Chris Lazzarino

Watch a video from Sunday’s welcome home celebration below:

Video by Dan Storey

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Battle of the birds

Posted on Jun 8, 2013 in News and Sports


The two favorite teams at the 2013 NCAA Track and Field Championships included the Kansas Jayhawks going up against the hometown Oregon Ducks at historic Hayward Field. Old friends, roommates and former KU track teammates, Jon Hays, c’93, and Rome Poracsky, ’89, took in the action Saturday, dubbing it the “Battle of the Birds.” Hays shared this picture with us via Twitter. Poracsky (pictured left above), a walk-on distance runner at Kansas in ’89, became a Duck after transferring to the University of Oregon at Eugene, where track culture runs strong. He now lives in Hillsboro, OR. Hays, who spent time living in Eugene with Poracsky after graduating from KU, now lives in the Bay area working for the University of California Berkeley.

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KU Alumni staff remember the ’88 championship game

Posted on Apr 4, 2013 in News and Sports

We’ve enjoyed reading KU fans’ memories of the 1988 NCAA championship game. Many of our future staff members were at the game or the celebrations that took place afterward, and they shared their memories also.

Lynn Loveland, assistant director of Kansas programs:

I went to the games and had a great seat on the floor.   Very exciting–after the games we went to the Plaza to celebrate.   I thought Kemper Arena was a great place to hold the game. Though the revenue wouldn’t come close to what they make now, everyone could actually see the game from their seats with no big screen needed.

1988 KU national championship parade | | photo courtesy of University Archives

David Johnston, director of internet services and marketing:

We got tickets to the championship at Kemper from disgruntled Duke fans. My seat ended up being right next to the junior high basketball coach who cut me during tryouts the previous year, effectively ending my basketball career! He was incredibly knowledgeable about the game, and we had a great time. At halftime with the score tied 50-50, he turned to me and said “that was the greatest half of basketball I’ve ever seen in my life.” Unforgettable experience.

Susan Younger, creative director:

The night of the win, we headed to campus and were stuck in our car for hours on Oread Avenue. Our kids sat on the window sills of our car and slapped thousands of hands. Everyone had their hands out the window and a steady stream of students ran by slapping them. My palms hurt for a couple of days. For the parade on campus, I took my sons out of school. We were on the boulevard in front of Snow Hall. My 8-year old Garrett said, “I wish someone would throw ME in the air.” A guy next to me grabbed him and before we could do anything, he was being tossed in the air. He was small, so he was being thrown up high and made it all the way down the mob to the front of Strong Hall, then they started to throw him back my way. The boy who grabbed him in the first place grabbed him back and said to me, “I’m so sorry ma’am, I should have asked if that was okay.” My son was a little scared but also excited.

About four guys came down the road carrying a yellow VW beetle and put it in the garden in front of Hoch. Trees in front of Wescoe were so overloaded, you could hear the trunks splinter and see them cracking in half. We were drenched in beer showers. People were shaking cans and spraying beer over the crowd. It was amazing!

Marcia Wilson, office assistant:

I was at the game and then at the team’s hotel after the game for the celebration in the street. The Oklahoma fans were watching from their hotel across the street. It was awesome!

KU 1988 National Championship parade | www.kualumni.orgJulie Lowrance, records specialist and license plate administrator:

I was a junior in high school in 1988. I remember watching the championship game at home with my parents and was so excited when KU won. There was a parade on Massachusetts Street a few days later. They let us out of school for the afternoon and we got to go and see it.   It was so awesome!   A great memory to have from my youth! I also remember my parents buying me a “Danny and the Miracles” t-shirt after KU won. Wish I still had that shirt!

Michelle Lang, assistant director of Kansas programs:

I was nine years old at the time of the 1988 championship game but I have some pretty clear memories of the night.   My family watched the game at my aunt and uncle’s house near downtown Lawrence and I remember right after KU won we went outside and could hear people shooting off fireworks.   Then we hopped in the car and drove through campus…that was the thing to do then instead of going to Mass Street.

Tim Brandt, director of the Adams Alumni Center

I was alive and in my prime at 37.   We were suited up in the bar in the Marriott, where the team was staying. We had just completed a full day of drinking beer at the opening day of Royals baseball and were settled in. Oklahoma, a one seed and KU a one seed — both big 8 schools — not sure the rest of the basketball world cared much. After the game there was a solid mob assembly inside and outside the hotel.   The rest was just a blur — the next day was not quite so much fun as we had to drive back to Wichita.

Photos courtesy of University Archives

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The Making of the Miracles

Posted on Apr 4, 2013 in News and Sports

In honor of the 25th anniversary of KU’s 1988 National Championship, we shared this video with members. We sat down with Kurt Messersmith, j’89, executive producer of the new documentary “The Miracles,” who shared what it was like to catch up with the players like Danny Manning, Archie Marshall and Milt Newton 25 years later. He found that their team chemistry was just as strong. Relive the drama of the ’88 season here, and purchase “The Miracles” on DVD from the KU Bookstore.

Danny Manning and Larry Brown, KU 1988 National Championship | photo copyright Earl Richardson,

Where were you?

We asked alumni to share their memories of the 1988 championship. Read those stores here, or share your memories with us on our Facebook page or by emailing us at

The stuff of miracles 25 years later

Watch the six-minute trailer for “The Miracles” and learn more about the documentary in our previous post.

Photo by Earl Richardson used with permission

Want to receive future member-exclusive updates? Click here to join!

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Where were you on April 4, 1988?

Posted on Apr 4, 2013 in News and Sports

Today is the 25th anniversary of the historic NCAA tournament game by “Danny and the Miracles” and the KU men’s basketball team’s 1988 championship. Over on our Facebook page, we asked alumni and fans “Where were you? What’s your favorite memory?” Here’s a few of our favorite responses.

I was in Kemper watching the Jayhawks stun the Sooners! I was 25, working on my Masters and pregnant with my son. My dad was at the game with me and it is one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ memories! We screamed, laughed and cried tears of joy! In 2008, that baby boy I was carrying was a sophomore at KU when we won it all again! Love my Jayhawks! — Janine G.

Danny Manning, 1988 NCAA Championship | www.kualumni.orgI was in Battenfeld Hall. We had to “borrow” toilet paper from other halls the next day – ours was in the trees. — Ulf B.

I was in NYC; moved there 2 weeks after walking down The Hill. Had to watch the game on a tiny B&W set…scared the neighbors at one point who knocked on my door thinking I was being murdered. The next morning my dad and mom called and told me they had already bought me a plane ticket home… wanted me to be back in Lawrence for the celebration. And, yes, I have great parents; die-hard Jayhawks! — Jennifer P.

We had a big watch party at home! It was a wonderful, exciting night! My husband worked at the Topeka Capital Journal at the time and we drove down there to get a newspaper hot off the press! That next morning, I went and got my personalized license plate “KU1NCAA” . I got the same one again in 2008! Love my Jayhawks! — Sheri W.

1988 NCAA Championship ticket | www.kualumni.orgAt our apartment with good friends. That was the year I became a Jayhawk fan without ever attending KU. My wife and I were newlyweds. I had moved back to U.S. from Brasil a year earlier and had landed an environmental consulting job in OP. Our TV set was tiny and B&W. I told my wife I was buying the largest color TV we could afford to watch the Final Four. We still have that 27-inch Sony that I cannot let go even though we have a LED 2 1/2 times larger. The old one is kind of a trophy that after 25 year still vividly shows the tradition and the best basketball program in the country doing their best, and making us proud of being their supporters. An extra incentive now is that our oldest child, André, is a traveling trumpet player with the Jayhawk pep bands and a music education major freshman at KU. It makes us double proud! Can’t wait for the 2013-2014 season to be back to Allen Fieldhouse. Rock Chalk Jayhawks, forever! — Otavio S.

Was a senior. Watched the game at Gammons with sorority sisters. Our picture made the front page of the K.C. paper the next day. Never high fived so many people as we did that night on campus. Loved the team doing the cabbage patch at the return rally the next day, at the football stadium, and Cinderella coming from Disney for the parade downtown. Most of my graduation video is of Danny Manning. Dad got distracted by the fact he was walking down the hill behind us. Great senior year memories!! — Cindy B.

We had just moved from NJ to OP, KS two days prior. None of our furniture was here yet. We went to Sears and bought a bunch of pillows and a TV and watched in our empty living room. I figured Kansas was going to be an alright place to live after that, and I haven’t left yet! — Lauren W.

Read more on our Facebook page. Photo courtesy of University Archives.

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Game day in Arlington

Posted on Mar 29, 2013 in News and Sports

It’s a great day to be a Jayhawk!

Today’s the day, Jayhawks. It’s game day in Arlington and a trip to the Elite Eight is on the line when KU takes on Michigan tonight at 6:37 p.m. Here’s a couple of updates for you.

Cowboys Stadium, Sweet 16 | www.kualumni.orgPregame party and pep rally

The festivities start at 2:30 p.m. at the Arlington Convention Center. Join your favorite Alumni Association, Kansas Athletics and for a free pregame party. Concessions and cash bars are available, and parking is $20 per car. The pep rally starts at 4:30 p.m.

Don’t forget your membership card, or a copy of a recent email from us that shows your current membership status, and pick up a free members-only gift at our table.


KU Sweet 16 practice crowd | Photo by Steve PuppeShow your spirit!

You can show your KU spirit in many different ways, and here are a few of our favorites.


Pictures from open practice

The Jayhawks enjoyed a large crowd at yesterday’s open practice. Check out our slideshow with photos from Steve Puppe.

Get your game face on! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

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Travel Tales: West coast watch parties

Posted on Mar 27, 2013 in News and Sports

When KU Alumni Association staff members took the madness of March on the road last weekend for KU’s opening games of the NCAA Tournament, Mike Davis, senior vice president for alumni, student and membership programs, and his daughter Katie, a member of the KU class of 2014, headed west for California.

The San Francisco Bay ‘Hawks gather faithfully at The Pub, located near historic Ghirardelli Square with a great view of the bay. Alumni who know and love Kansas City barbecue might appreciate The Pub’s claim to fame as the best barbecue in the city.

Chapter leader Peter Curzon, c’08, b’08, hosted nearly one hundred Jayhawks at the watch party Friday night who celebrated KU’s win over Western Kentucky, including former KU quarterback Brian Luke, d’06.

On Saturday, Mike and Katie drove down PCH1 from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo. “We ran into a couple of KU alumni at a gas station in Cambria and had a spirited discussion about how the Jayhawks had played the night before,” Mike says. They enjoyed dinner with Jerry, b’81, and Lenor Skillett in Altadena.

Sunday morning was a beautiful day in Los Angeles–unlike Lawrence, where it continued to snow. Mike and Katie joined chapter leader Maria Skeels, c’97, j’01, and more than 200 Los Angeles Jayhawks at their official watch site, the Parlor in Hollywood. Among the Jayhawks watching KU defeat North Carolina for the third time in five years was famous funnyman Rob Riggle, c’93, and Kansas native, diehard Jayhawk fan and professional boxer Victor Ortiz, a WBC welterweight champion and current contestant on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.

As much as we’d like to claim Captain Jack Sparrow as an alumnus of KU, unfortunately he is not.

Mike Davis and Jack Sparrow | www.kualumni.orgMike Davis and Victor Ortiz at the Parlor Hollywood |

For more photos from chapter watch parties, check out our Flickr slideshow.

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On to the Sweet 16!

Posted on Mar 25, 2013 in News and Sports

Jeff Withey dunks | KU vs. UNC | (Photo by Steve Puppe)

The KU men’s basketball team is headed to its 30th Sweet 16 in the history of the NCAA Tournament.

Open practice, game times set

The public is invited to attend practices featuring the four teams that will be at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for the NCAA Tournament’s South Regional. KU, the region’s top seed, will be on the court in Cowboys Stadium from 2:10 to 3 p.m. The Jayhawks’ opponent, the University of Michigan, starts the Thursday session at noon, followed by Florida Gulf Coast University at 1, and, after KU’s session, the University of Florida at 3:10.

KU’s Sweet 16 game against Michigan is set to tip off at 6:37 p.m. on Friday, followed by Florida vs. Florida Gulf Coast. Winners advance to the Elite Eight on Sunday, with game times to be determined after the conclusion of Friday’s games.

Travis Releford | (Photo by Steve Puppe)Pep rally, pregame party info

The KU Alumni Association, along with Kansas Athletics and, will host a pregame party and pep rally for Jayhawk fans on Friday.

The festivities will take place at the Arlington Convention Center starting at 2:30 p.m. on Friday. The pregame party is free to attend, and there will be concessions, cash bars and parking on site ($20 per car). The convention center is within walking distance of Cowboys Stadium.

The pep rally, featuring the pep band, spirit squad and mascots, is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at the convention center.

Show your card!

Be sure to show your Alumni Association membership card at our table and receive a free, members-only gift! If you’re not already a member, visit today, and print out your purchase receipt to show to our staff members. Or, bring a copy of a recent email from the Alumni Association that shows your membership status at the bottom.

KU Alumni watch site

Don’t have tickets to the game? Head to the official KU Alumni watch site, Humperdink’s, at 700 Six Flags Drive, to watch the game with fellow Jayhawks. Be sure to send us your pictures of the watch party! Email us at, tweet them to us at @kualumni or post them on our Facebook page.

Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!

Photos by Steve Puppe

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Betsy’s best bets for Kansas City visitors

Posted on Mar 20, 2013 in News and Sports

img_about_staff_betsyTraveling to Kansas City for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament this weekend? We asked Betsy Winetroub, assistant director of Kansas City programs for the Alumni Association, to share her top picks of places to see and things to do in the Kansas City area– when you’re not watching basketball, of course. Without further ado, here are Betsy’s best bets.


Country Club Plaza fountain via www.kualumni.org1. My very favorite restaurant in Kansas City is Il Centro. The food is amazing, they have a fabulous wine list, the staff is friendly and knowledgeable and the vibe is quaint and local. Love it! It was also chosen by Zagat as the best Italian food in Kansas City.

2. If you are in Kansas City for the first time, you have to experience the Country Club Plaza. When the weather is nice, the patio at Gram & Dun is hard to beat with their fireplaces and great outdoor seating. You also might try Classic Cup for dinner– it’s a Kansas City staple!

3. If you are enjoying the games and staying downtown, La Bodega is a great spot for a group. Their tapas and sangria are the best in town.

4. When you’re in Kansas City, don’t forget to try our classic barbecue! Arthur Bryant’s, Gates Bar-B-Q and Oklahoma Joe’s are all personal favorites.


Bartle Hall in Kansas City via www.kualumni.org1. Luckily for basketball fans, you never have to leave the Power & Light district. Makers Mark is fun if you want a little food with your glass of wine, and PBR Big Sky Bar is a blast for country music, dancing and bull riding if you’re feeling really crazy! Note: PBR stands for Professional Bull Riders, Inc., not Pabst Blue Ribbon.

2. If you are looking for something more low-key, Manifesto in the Regier Hotel Grill & Exchange is a fun experience. The 48-seat cocktail bar specializes in hand-crafted drinks in a speakeasy environment. But plan ahead; you have to call or text in advance for reservations.

3. On the Plaza, O’Dowd’s is a safe bet for a good time. The crowd can be younger, but there’s usually live music on the weekends and the upstairs patio is great for people watching.

Music and Dancing

1. During the tournament, there is sure to be live music in the Power & Light district. The Dubliner usually has a fun Irish band or sometimes even a great 80’s cover band.

2. For traditional Kansas City jazz, you have to go to the Phoenix Jazz Club in the River Market area. Go early and roam the neighborhood.

3. In the Plaza area, The Levee is fun for live music and dancing. It’s situated between the Plaza and Old Westport in historic midtown.


Union Station, Kansas City via www.kualumni.org1. Kansas City is fortunate to have one of the country’s best encyclopedic art museums. Spend some time wandering the beautiful sculpture park or the architecture of the Bloch Building at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

2. The National WWI Museum at the Liberty Memorial is also worth a stop. The Museum sits on top of a beautiful hill overlooking downtown Kansas City and is an amazing historical experience.

3. If the kids are with you, Union Station and Science City will provide hours of food, fun, and learning.

4. Give yourself a little extra time and travel 45 minutes to beautiful Lawrence! Beside the University of Kansas campus, downtown Lawrence has some of the best restaurants, shopping and entertainment around.

Thanks to Betsy for her list of must-see, must-do attractions in the Kansas City area! What would you add to the list? Email us at

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