After a season filled with ups and downs, a 14th straight conference championship and a trip to the Final Four, the Jayhawks fell to the Villanova Wildcats Saturday night in the national semifinal.
KU fans gathered in San Antonio, Allen Fieldhouse, and at watch parties from coast to coast to watch the Jayhawks in the Final Four.
At the Final Four
More than 5,000 Jayhawks started their game day right outside the Alamodome for the pregame party hosted by the KU Alumni Association and Kansas Athletics. The KU band, Spirit Squad and mascots held a pep rally, with food trucks and cash bars nearby.
Back home in Lawrence
Dozens of Lawrence-area bars and restaurants hosted watch parties, but the most popular site for a big KU game remained the same. Thousands of fans flocked to Allen Fieldhouse to watch the game on the video board. Students filled the student section, and threw shredded Kansans into the air for pregame introductions.
Wherever Jayhawks may be
Alumni networks hosted more than 75 watch parties around the country. Many network leaders claimed it was their biggest turnout in years. The Denver Network alone hosted 1,000 Jayhawks at Stoney’s Bar and Grill.
Although we hate to see the season end, the Alumni Association is proud of this team, and we are always proud to be a Jayhawk.
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KU alumni Curtis Marsh, j’92, and Creighton Coover, b’98, g’01, sat down to talk KU hoops and recall their all-time favorite Jayhawk players and memorable moments on the occasion of the 120th anniversary of basketball at the University of Kansas.
Listen to their take on KU’s top teams, most memorable moments and all-time starting lineups, and let us know what you think. Have a favorite KU hoops memory you’d like to share? Drop us a line and let us hear about it!
Look who’s talking
Curtis Marsh is director of KU Info and the DeBruce Center, home of Naismith’s original rules of basketball, at the University of Kansas. An avid KU basketball fan and historian of all things KU, Marsh was an undergraduate in the late 80s and early 90s, when camping for games often involved sleeping outside in a tent. He is one of the famous Allen Fieldhouse whistlers, as covered on this blog, and helped launch (literally) the legend of Captain Jayhawk and the Superfans.
Creighton Coover is a senior account manager with iModules Software, where he spends his days helping alumni associations across the country manage their data (disclaimer: the KU Alumni Association is an iModules client). In his spare time, Creighton continues to pore over data, tracking historically significant stats of his beloved Jayhawks on Twitter. He was a repeat guest on Brian Hanni’s Rock Chalk Sports Talk show for a segment titled Beyond the Box Score.
“When you put a W and a V together, you had mountains. They may call it the Flying WV but to me, it depicts mountains,” Boyd said.
The total cost for the new logo? $200.
The Mountaineers introduced Martin’s logo on Sept. 6, 1980.
The day marked a number of firsts. It was the season opener against the Cincinnati Bearcats. It was Don Nehlen’s first game as head coach. And, it was the first game at the new 50,000 seat Mountaineer Field.
Today, the WVU logo is widely recognized, and Martin frequently encounters fans wearing the logo outside of West Virginia.
“I’m quite honored by it all,” Martin said. “It’s an awesome feeling knowing you were able to make that kind of contribution to an institution of that magnitude. Every time I watch a WVU game, I reflect back on something very special.”
Watch Martin describe his inspiration for the West Virginia University logo:
Thanks to a tip from one of our Facebook followers, Jeff Suggs, for some additional Kansas-West Virginia connections: Gene Budig, who was KU’s chancellor from 1980-1994, was president of West Virginia University from 1977-1980. Also, WVU’s head basketball coach at the time, Gale Catlett, was an assistant under Ted Owens at Kansas from 1967-1971. Catlett left Kansas for an assistant coach position under Adolph Rupp (another KU connection!) at Kentucky for one year. He took over as WVU’s head coach in 1978.
Fans braved the cold weather Thursday morning in Kansas City as the KU men’s basketball team prepared to take on Oklahoma State in their first game of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship.
The Alumni Association, Kansas Athletics, and the Williams Education Fund hosted a pregame party at No Other Pub. The festivities included giveaways, KU merchandise, and a pep rally featuring the Marching Jayhawks and the Spirit Squad.
Brian Hanni, the Voice of the Jayhawks, hosted a pep rally on the main stage of the KC Live! block. A video celebrating 14 straight Big 12 Conference titles played on the big screen, and Sheahon Zenger, director of athletics, and Chancellor Doug Girod also gave remarks before handing the spotlight back to Hanni.
The Jayhawks knocked off Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals—a victory that was especially sweet after losing to the Cowboys twice during the regular season.
The team takes on the Kansas State Wildcats at 6 p.m. Friday, Mach 9, in a third reprisal of the Sunflower Showdown. The Alumni Association will again co-host a pregame party at No Other Pub starting at 3 p.m.
After Saturday’s 74-72 win over Texas Tech, the 2017-18 Kansas men’s basketball team clinched a 14th consecutive Big 12 regular-season championship.
The streak, which began with the 2004-05 team, is now the longest in NCAA history, passing UCLA’s 13 consecutive Pac-10 titles from 1967-79. The conference title is KU’s 61st, extending its own NCAA record.
Kansas Athletics commemorated the accomplishment with a video featuring the people that made KU’s legendary run possible:
The University of Kansas celebrated Langston Hughes’ birthday with its fourth annual “The Power of Sport: A Conversation on Business, Race and Sports” symposium on Feb. 1. The event featured panelists Lafayette Norwood, a former KU basketball assistant coach, and Darnell Valentine, a KU All-American and former player for the Portland Trail Blazers. Claire Smith, a sports writer and news editor for ESPN, was the keynote speaker.
Life in Wichita in the 1980s
Dr. Shawn Leigh Alexander, associate professor and director of graduate studies for the Department of African and African-American Studies, led the evening and interviewed both Norwood and Valentine to dig deeper into what life was like in Wichita during the 1980s. Valentine explained that growing up, his entire world existed within a three-block radius, but basketball allowed him to broaden his perspective. He was the star of his team at Wichita Heights High School under Coach Norwood; when Norwood became an assistant at KU, it was a no-brainer for Valentine to follow.
Aside from being an successful athlete, Valentine was also an academic All-American. When faced with any issue, whether it involved school, relationships, or athletics, Coach Norwood asked Valentine, “what is the worst case scenario?” With this as his motivation, Valentine says having a college degree and being prepared to do something other than basketball was always in his mind.
Smith delivers keynote
Later in the evening, Smith gave her keynote address and recalled how she fell in love with sports. Her parents loved a nation that did not always love them back, but they showed an admiration for sports that was contagious. They had the ability to make Smith feel as though the star athletes were part of the family. One day Smith watched The Jackie Robinson Story at school and from then on was hooked. “Jackie mixed grit and grace and a grim determination to sacrifice for the greater good. He hasn’t played in over half a century and yet he still inspires; he still inspires me,” Smith said.
The “lost generation”
Smith laments the era of Michael Jordan as the “lost generation.” Sports were no longer arenas for social and political discussion, and black athletes appeared content simply making money instead of using the voice their notoriety gave them. “People so easily disappeared beyond their gated communities, sold products, and forgot that many of the kids pining to wear their shoes were even hungrier for role models,” Smith said. With the return of politics in sports, Smith notes that there will always be consequences for standing up—or even sitting down—and the media will always ask “why?,” but we should never expect to hear regrets.
All three guest speakers addressed the need for black athletes to represent, and more specifically, to represent the voices other people do not have. Using one’s name and notoriety is a powerful tool, because the world is always watching.
Editor’s note: Brianna Mears is a digital media intern for the KU Alumni Association. She is a fourth-generation Jayhawk and a sophomore in the University Honors Program majoring in strategic communications with a minor in business and African & African-American studies. She is also a member of the Journalism Student Leadership Board, a J-School Ambassador and a member of the Student Alumni Leadership Board.
Driven by their love for the game, a group of dedicated sports club athletes is leading a hockey resurgence at KU.
Yo juego hockey.
When his Spanish teacher asked students to introduce themselves to a classmate, Andy McConnell turned to an unknown guy seated nearby and said, en español, “I play hockey.”
When he arrived at KU, McConnell immediately sought out the men’s ice hockey club team. What he found here was not good. There were no prospects for the sport’s return, until McConnell heard his classmate’s reply:
Yo juego hockey.
McConnell closed out his playing career two years ago and has since volunteered his time as the club’s head coach.
Find out how KU’s ice hockey club team was reborn in Chris Lazzarino’s cover story for issue no. 1, 2018, of Kansas Alumni magazine.
For more information about the award-winning Kansas Alumni magazine, click here.
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.
Find out what fellow Jayhawks are up to in our biweekly edition of “In the News.” It’s like an online version of Class Notes.If you’ve seen Jayhawks in the news who should be featured, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After graduating in May of 2017, University alumna Savannah Rodgers became a producer on the project, “Out Here in Kansas.” The documentary revolves around the LGBTQ community and how it intersects with Christianity in Kansas. Read full article.
The University of Kansas Sport Management Program is thrilled to announce the inaugural Board of Directors. These eleven KU alumni will provide invaluable insight to the faculty and students as the program continually grows and adapts in a ever-changing sporting landscape. Read full article.
Marah Schlingensiepen-Malleck is a 2016 Public Affairs and Administration grad who is now a PhD Student at University of Florida. Following her time at KU, she is able to reflect on what she learned through her research and give advice of her own. Read full article.
By now, almost 10 full years after Mario’s Miracle and the Kansas men’s basketball team’s run to the 2008 national championship, many of the stories about that team, its tournament run and the title game against Memphis have been told. Read full article.
Doug Richmond, who earned a Juris Doctor from the KU School of Law in 1989, received the Alumni Achievement Award from Fort Hays State University during its Homecoming celebration. The award is the Alumni Association’s highest honor. Read full article.
Low-income, at-risk students will have a greater opportunity to graduate college in four years without crushing debt because of a new partnership between Kansas State University and the Peter and Veronica Mallouk Give Back Program. Peter Mallouk is president and chief investment officer of Creative Planning Inc., one of the largest independent wealth management firms in the country. A graduate of the University of Kansas and its Graduate School of Business, he and his wife, also a KU graduate, are co-founders of KC CAN!, an organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the quality of life of children in Kansas City. Read full article.
The Kansas City Chiefs created the position to oversee new business, renewals, activation and service for corporate partnerships, suites and media rights revenue streams. Kimberly Hobbs was hired to the new role of vice president of corporate partnerships and premium sales. She’s a 20-year veteran of the sports marketing industry and is also a member of the Greater Kansas City Network of the KU Alumni Association’s board of directors. Read full article.
Johnson County manager Hannes Zacharias on Sunday, Oct. 22, was recognized with the Edwin O. Stene Award for Managerial Excellence. The honor was given at the KUCIMAT banquet — a yearly KU alumni event hosted at the International City/County Management Association annual conference. Read full article.
Allen Frame ran for simple reasons. “Because I won,” he said. “That’s the reason I enjoyed it.” Frame won plenty of races at East High and the University of Kansas during a golden era of track and field. He moved to Wichita from Iowa, following his father’s job at Beech, for his final three semesters and joined Fritz Snodgrass’ track team at East. Read full article.
Wells Fargo Middle Market Banking announced today that it has promoted three executives within its Illinois commercial lending operations. The company named 21-year banking veteran Chris Nay to lead six teams statewide as division manager, effective immediately. Nay earned a degree from the KU School of Business in 1993. Read full article.
Former Kansas basketball guard Ryan Robertson, his wife Andrea — a former Missouri soccer player — and their three children are all Jayhawk fans. Robinson was unable to attend the charity exhibition game, but he shared his thoughts on the rivalry. Read full article.
Less than a week after Homecoming on the Hill, KU men’s basketball welcomed back one of its most recent stars. In preparation for Friday’s NBA preseason game at Sprint Center, Joel Embiid and his Philadelphia 76ers teammates traveled from Kansas City to Lawrence to hold practice at Allen Field House.
“We looked at it, and we were that close playing in Kansas City we thought it would be appropriate to visit this historic place,” coach Brett Brown said. “The historic perspective of this building, along with Joel’s history here, made it a no-brainer we should drive 45 minutes down the road and experience the building and practice here.”
The Sixers’ practice in Allen Field House gave their lone Jayhawk a rare in-season opportunity to visit the campus he dearly adores.
“I was supposed to take the bus with the team, but I wanted to walk around,” Embiid said. “I wanted to do that just to feel like I stayed for three more years, and I’m definitely going to come back to finish school.”
A secret revealed
The chance to relive his college days led Embiid, ’17, to share a secret about how much time he could have spent on the Hill: “I don’t think anybody knows this story. I actually decided to stay because I love this place so much, but I was kind of pushed to leave. Any time I get the chance to come back I’m going to do that. Stepping on this court, this is where it all started for me, so I’m really thankful.”
The Sixers selected Embiid third overall in the 2014 NBA draft, but the athletic 7-footer has been limited to 31 regular-season NBA games due to foot and back injuries, setbacks that almost led him to quit the game during his second year as a pro. The lack of game experience has not slowed Embiid’s development, due in large part to his capacity as a visual learner.
“It’s a rare skill,” coach Brown says. “He’ll see Dirk Nowitzki do something or Kevin Durant or Tim Duncan back in the day, and the next day it’s in his game and he’s trying it. His spirit is great. We need it to be great.”
This year, expectations for the Sixers include a potential playoff spot, which with a healthy Embiid would not be surprising. As he looks to lead his team to long overdue success, Embiid also knows what he left behind just three years ago.
“I miss the culture,” he says. “You know, the fans were amazing over here. We have some Duke teammates who think they got the best arena, but I always tell them, ‘You never been here.’ Sixteen thousand people cheering, you can’t even hear.”
The Sixers and Heat will tip off at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, in Kansas City’s Sprint Center.