Kansas Jayhawks

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Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas Jayhawks logo.svg
UniversityUniversity of Kansas
Conference Big 12 Conference
NCAA Division I
Athletic director Jeff Long
Location Lawrence, Kansas
Varsity teams16
Football stadium David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium
Basketball arena Allen Fieldhouse
Baseball stadium Hoglund Ballpark
Softball stadiumArrocha Ballpark
Soccer stadiumRock Chalk Park
Other arenasAnschutz Pavilion
Rim Rock Farm
Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena
Robinson Natatorium
Jayhawk Tennis Center
Mascot Big Jay, Baby Jay
Fight song I'm a Jayhawk
Cheer Rock Chalk, Jayhawk
ColorsCrimson and Blue [1]
Website www.kuathletics.com
Kansas Jayhawks wordmark.svg
Big 12 logo in Kansas' colors Big 12 logo in KU colors.svg
Big 12 logo in Kansas' colors

The Kansas Jayhawks, commonly referred to as KU, are the athletic teams that represent the University of Kansas. KU is one of three schools in the state of Kansas that participate in NCAA Division I. The Jayhawks are also a member of the Big 12 Conference. KU athletic teams have won eleven NCAA Division I championships: three in men's basketball, one in men's cross country, three in men's indoor track and field, three in men's outdoor track and field, and one in women's outdoor track and field.


The name "Jayhawks" comes from the Kansas Jayhawker freedom fighter and anti-slavery movement during the Bleeding Kansas era of the American Civil War.

Origins of "Jayhawk"

The origin of the term "Jayhawk" (short for "Jayhawker") is uncertain. The origin of the term may go back as far as the Revolutionary War, when it was reportedly used to describe a group associated with American patriot John Jay. [2]

The term became part of the lexicon of the Missouri-Kansas border in about 1858, during the Kansas territorial period. The term was used to describe militant bands nominally associated with the free-state cause. One early Kansas history contained this succinct characterization of the jayhawkers: [3]

Confederated at first for defense against pro-slavery outrages, but ultimately falling more or less completely into the vocation of robbers and assassins, they have received the name – whatever its origin may be – of jayhawkers.

Another historian of the territorial period described the jayhawkers as bands of men that were willing to fight, kill, and rob for a variety of motives that included defense against pro-slavery "Border Ruffians", abolition, driving pro-slavery settlers from their claims of land, revenge, and/or plunder and personal profit. [4]

In September 1861, the town of Osceola, Missouri was burned to the ground by Jayhawkers during the Sacking of Osceola. [5] On the 150th anniversary of that event in 2011, the town asked the University of Kansas to remove the Jayhawk as its mascot. [6] The university refused.

Over time, proud of their state's contributions to the end of slavery and the preservation of the Union, Kansans embraced the "Jayhawker" term. The term came to be applied to people or items related to Kansas. When the University of Kansas fielded their first football team in 1890, like many universities at that time, they had no official mascot. They used many different independent mascots, including a pig. Eventually, sometime during the 1890s, the team was referred to as the Jayhawkers by the student body. [7] Over time, the name was gradually supplanted by its shorter variant, and KU's sports teams are now almost exclusively known as the Jayhawks. The Jayhawk appears in several Kansas cheers, most notably, the "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk" chant in unison before and during games. [8] In the traditions promoted by KU, the jayhawk is said to be a combination of two birds, "the blue jay, a noisy, quarrelsome thing known to rob other nests, and the sparrow hawk, a stealthy hunter." [9]

The link between the term "Jayhawkers" and any specific kind of mythical bird, if it ever existed, had been lost or at least obscured by the time KU's bird mascot was invented in 1912. The originator of the bird mascot, Henry Maloy, struggled for over two years to create a pictorial symbol for the team, until hitting upon the bird idea. As explained by Mr. Maloy, "the term ‘jayhawk’ in the school yell was a verb and the term ‘jayhawkers’ was the noun." [10] KU's current Jayhawk tradition largely springs from Frank W. Blackmar, a KU professor. In his 1926 address on the origin of the Jayhawk, Blackmar specifically referenced the blue jay and sparrow hawk. Blackmar's address served to soften the link between KU's athletic team moniker and the Jayhawkers of the Kansas territorial period, and helped explain the relatively recently invented Jayhawk pictorial symbol with a myth that appears to have been of even more recent fabrication. [11]

Sports sponsored

Men's sportsWomen's sports
Baseball Basketball
Basketball Cross country
Cross countryGolf
Football Rowing
Track and fieldSoftball
Swimming and diving
Track and field
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor.

The University of Kansas officially sponsors 16 sports: 6 men's and 8 women's. There are also club-level sports for rugby, ice hockey, and men's volleyball. The school used to sponsor a wrestling team, though the sport was discontinued during the 1960s. [12]


Men's basketball

The Jayhawks men's basketball program is one of the most successful and prestigious programs in the history of college basketball. The Jayhawks' first coach was the inventor of the game, James Naismith. The program has produced some of the game's greatest professional players (including Clyde Lovellette, Wilt Chamberlain, Jo Jo White, Paul Pierce, and Frank Mason III, and most successful coaches (including Phog Allen, Adolph Rupp, Ralph Miller, Dutch Lonborg, John McLendon, Larry Brown, Dean Smith, Roy Williams, and Bill Self). The program has enjoyed considerable national success, having been retroactively selected Helms Foundation National Champions for 1922 and 1923, winning NCAA national championships in 1952, 1988, and 2008, and playing in 15 Final Fours, and is one of only three programs to win more than 2,000 games. In Street & Smith's Annual list of 100 greatest college basketball programs of all time in 2005, KU ranked 4th. [13]

Women's basketball

Kansas first fielded a women's team during the 1968–69 season. For thirty-one seasons (1973–2004) the women's team was coached by Marian Washington, who led the team to three Big Eight championships, one Big 12 Championship, six conference tournament championships, eleven NCAA Tournament appearances and four AIAW Tournament appearances. The team's best post-season result was a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 1998. Bonnie Henrickson served as head coach from 2004 to 2015, until she was fired in March 2015. [14] Brandon Schneider was hired to replace Henrickson in April 2015.


KU began playing football in 1890. The football team has had notable alumni including Gale Sayers, a two-time All-American who later enjoyed an injury-shortened yet Hall of Fame career with the Chicago Bears; John Riggins, another Pro Football Hall of Famer and Super Bowl XVII MVP with the Washington Redskins; Pro Football Hall of Famer for the Cleveland Browns, Mike McCormack. Additional notable former Jayhawks John Hadl, Curtis McClinton, Dana Stubblefield, Bobby Douglass, Nolan Cromwell, and current NFL cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr.. The Jayhawks have appeared three times in the Orange Bowl, 1948, 1969 and 2008, winning in 2008. The team currently plays in Memorial Stadium (capacity 50,071), the seventh oldest college football stadium in the nation, which opened in 1921. Clint Bowen was named interim head coach after Charlie Weis was fired September 28, 2014. On December 5, 2014, David Beaty was announced as the next head football coach. [15]


Kansas baseball began in 1880 and has produced notable players such as Bob Allison and Steve Renko. The team has appeared in five NCAA tournaments (1993, 1994, 2006, 2009, 2014) and one College World Series (1993).


The Jayhawks softball team has appeared in seven Women's College World Series, in 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979 and 1992. [16]


In 1949, Marilynn Smith won the women's individual intercollegiate golf championship (an event conducted by the Division of Girls' and Women's Sports (DGWS) — which later evolved into the current NCAA women's golf championship).

Notable non-varsity sports


Founded in 1964, Kansas Jayhawks Rugby Football Club plays college rugby in the Division 1 Heart of America conference against its many of its traditional Big 8 / Big 12 rivals such as Kansas State and Missouri. Kansas finished the 2011 year ranked 24th. [17] Kansas rugby has embarked on international tours since 1977, playing in Europe, New Zealand, South Africa, Belgium, Holland, Scotland, England, Ireland and Argentina. [18] The team plays its matches at the Westwick Rugby Complex, which was funded by $350,000 in alumni donations. [19] Kansas often hosts the annual Heart of America sevens tournament played every September, the winner of which qualifies for the USA Rugby sevens national championship. Notable University of Kansas rugby all-Americans are: Pete Knudsen 1986, Paul King 1989–90, Anthony Rio 1992, Philip Olson 1993 all American, Joel Foster 1993, Collin Gotham 1993.

Ice Hockey

Competing in the ACHA, the Kansas Jayhawks Club Ice Hockey team has seen a resurgence in popularity since the team started scheduling games against historical rivals Missouri and Nebraska, starting on an annualized basis in 2013. The team is coached by Andy McConnell.

The team's primary logo is the traditional Kansas Jayhawk logo, with the secondary logo playing homage to the Vancouver Canucks classic logo, with the outline of the state of Kansas having a hockey stick running through the middle of it.


Conference championships & titles

Big 12 Conference champions have the best conference regular season record, and titles are awarded to the winner of the postseason championship tournament. In all sports combined (as of December 2016) the Jayhawks have won total of 169 conference titles all-time, 24 championships since joining the Big 12. Note that approximately 1/3 of those are from the Men's basketball.

Men's basketball [20]

The Jayhawks have won or shared an NCAA record 60 conference championships since they joined their first conference in 1907. The Jayhawks have belonged to the Big 12 Conference since it was formed, before the 1996–97 season, and dominated it, winning 12 straight conference titles dating back to 2005. Before that, the Jayhawks have belonged to the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association from the 1907–08 to 1927–28 seasons, the Big Six Conference from 1928–29 to 1946–47, the Big Seven Conference from 1947–48 to 1957–58, the Big Eight Conference from 1958–59 up until the end of the 1995–96 season. The Big Six and Big Seven conferences were actually the more often used names of the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association, which existed under that official name until 1964, when it was changed to the Big Eight. [21]

Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association (13)

Big Six Conference (12)

Big Seven Conference (5)

Big Eight Conference (13)

Big 12 Conference (18)

In addition to the 61 Conference Championships, the Jayhawks have also captured 28 Conference Tournament Championships:

Women's basketball [22]
1979 – Big 8 tournament champion
1980 – Big 8 tournament champion
1981 – Big 8 tournament champion
1987 – Big 8 regular season and tournament champion
1988 – Big 8 tournament champion
1992 – Big 8 regular season champion
1993 – Big 8 tournament champion
1996 – Big 8 regular season champion
1997 – Big 12 champion
1921 – MVIAA champion
1922 – MVIAA champion
1923 – MVIAA champion
1949 – Big 7 Conference champion
2006 – Big 12 tournament champion
2004 – Big 12 regular season co-champion
Softball [23]
2006 – Big 12 tournament champion
Men's indoor track & field
1922, 1923, 1934, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983
Women's indoor track & field
Men's outdoor track & field
1910, 1927, 1928, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1946, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982
Women's outdoor track & field
Men's cross country
1928, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1968, 1969
Men's golf
1979, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2019
Women's volleyball

NCAA team championships

Kansas has won 11 NCAA team national championships. [24]

Other national team championships

The Jayhawks have also won three national championship not awarded by the NCAA:


Kansas State Wildcats (Sunflower Showdown)

Kansas State University is Kansas' in-state rival. The series between Kansas and Kansas State is known as the Sunflower Showdown.

Missouri Tigers (Border War)

The 160-year-old rivalry between Kansas and Missouri began with open violence that up to the American Civil War known as Bleeding Kansas that took place in the Kansas Territory (Sacking of Lawrence) and the western frontier towns of Missouri throughout the 1850s. [25] The incidents were clashes between pro-slavery factions from both states and anti-slavery Kansans to influence whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free or slave state. In the opening year of the war, six Missouri towns (the largest being Osceola) and large swaths of the western Missouri country side were plundered and burned by guerrilla "Jayhawkers" from Kansas. The Sacking of Osceola led to a retaliatory raid on Lawrence, Kansas two years later known as the Lawrence Massacre killing between 185 and 200 men and boys, which in turn led to the infamous General Order No. 11 (1863), the forced depopulation of several western Missouri counties. [26] The raid on Lawrence was led by William Quantrill, a Confederate guerrilla born in Ohio who had formed his bushwhacker group at the end of 1861. At the time the Civil War broke out, Quantrill was a resident of Lawrence, Kansas teaching school. [27]

The athletic rivalry began with a football game on October 31, 1891. Currently it is the second longest played series in Division I football and has been described as one of the most intense in the nation. [28] However, no regular season games were scheduled after Missouri accepted an offer to join the Southeastern Conference and Kansas refused Missouri's offer to continue rivalry outside of the conference. [29] In the basketball series Kansas leads by a large margin (172-95 KU), in football Missouri leads by a very small margin (56-55-9 MU) and baseball Missouri leads by a large margin. Regular season games have been scheduled for basketball beginning in 2020 and football in 2025 for the first time since Missouri left for the SEC.

Dormant rivalries

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Kansas had a rivalry with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, though that rivalry had more to do with who had the better sports program, with Kansas priding itself on its basketball prowess and Nebraska on its football dominance. This rivalry of sports cultures has gone dormant with Nebraska's departure for the Big Ten Conference in 2011. Prior to 2011, the football series between the 2 schools was the 3rd most played rivalry in college football behind Minnesota-Wisconsin and Kansas-Missouri. In basketball, Kansas leads the all-time series 170–71.


Notable seasons

Notable athletes

Athletic directors

James Naismith also served as athletic director in some fashion[ vague ] in the years prior to Hamilton. Hamilton is the first official athletic director.

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Specific references:

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Further reading