Location: Lawrence, Kansas
Conference: Big 12
School Colors: Crimson and Blue
Fight Song: "I'm a Jayhawk"
University of Kansas Nickname: Jayhawks
According to Kansas officials the Jayhawk nickname first took flight in 1849. The
mythical bird combines the names of two birds that are common in the west, the
hawk and the blue jay.
The word is said to have first been uttered by a group of pioneers crossing what is
now Nebraska. They referred to themselves as "the Jayhawkers of'49." By 1858 the
"Jayhawk" description lost its pioneering spirit and became know as a term
associated with robbing, looting and lawlessness.
However, during the Civil War the word gained prestige when a Kansas calvary
regiment became know as the "Independent Mounted Kansas Jayhawkers" in
1961. Soon the Jayhawk nickname symbolized the courageous fighting spirit that
supported the effort to keep Kansas a free state.
The Jayhawk spirit spread its wings further in 1886 when the University of Kansas
incorporated the Jayhawk into its school yell. Several years later birds began
appearing on the school's posters and postcards and in 1901 its yearbook became
known as the Jayhawker
|Kansas Jayhawks Traditions
Discover the story behind Kansas' nickname, mascot, colors and more!
KU mascots Jay and Baby Jay team up to generate Jayhawk
spirit. The Jayhawk tradition has soared high for a century.
Kansas Mascots: Jay and Baby Jay
Long before the first costumed Jayhawk took the field to support Kansas athletics, the Jayhawk symbol gained life in
drawings. Henry Maloy, a cartoonist for the student newspaper drew his version of the Jayhawk in 1912 that featured the
bird wearing shoes so that he could kick opponents. Several variations of illustrated Jayhawks grasped the Kansas
perch until Harold Sandy's 1946 design of a smiling Jayhawk set the standard that still flies high for the university.
The 1960s will long be remembered for Americas race to the moon. However it was a star that Kansas found when Jay,
a costumed Jayhawk was provided by the KU Alumni Association. The arrival of a companion mascot for Jay in 1971 left
Kansas fans with egg on their face. During homecoming ceremonies a huge egg was transported to the 50-yard line,
where fans cracked up over the hatching of Jay's junior cheering companion ''Baby-Jay.'' The two are crowd favorites at
Kansas athletic functions and community events.
KU's Color Selection: Ivy Roots Ran Deep
After using Michigan's colors, maize and sky blue, since the 1860s, the Jayhawks sprouted different colors in 1890.
Football had just arrived in Lawrence and student backers wanted to use Harvard crimson for its athletic colors in
honor of Col. John J. McCook, a Harvard man who had donated money for the Jayhawks athletic field.
Other voices in the Kansas camp demanded a different color be added to the mix. These faculty members from Yale
pushed for the blue from their school be adopted. Eventually it was agreed upon that both Ivy League colors would
comprise Kansas colors.
Kansas Gameday Traditions: The Rock Chalk Chant
An effort by a Kansas chemistry professor to create a cheer for his Science Club has had long lasting effects on the
excitement generated at Kansas games. What is now widely known as the Rock Chalk Chant was first developed by
professor E.H.S. Bailey and his associates who patterned the yell after the rhythmic cadence of their train rolling along
The cheer developed on the train ride back from Wichita in 1886 originally was worded ''Rah Rah, Jayhawk, KU,." and
was repeated three times. However, in an effort to rhyme the chant, Rah Rah was replaced by ''Rock chalk". Not only
does ''Rock Chalk" match up better with Jayhawk, but it's also symbolic of the chalky limestone formations found in the
Today 50,000 Jayhawk fans shower their team with the "Rock Chalk" chant. The cheer was once described by Teddy
Roosevelt as the best he'd ever heard.
Kansas' Memorial Stadium: The house that John Wooden built?
While being known as one of the most successful architects in college basketball, the former director of UCLA's hoop
dynasty actually helped build Kansas' Memorial Stadium. One of the reasons the stadium is on such a solid
foundation is that Wooden had ajob pouring concrete at the construction site in the 1920s. Wooden was an Indiana
high school student at the time, but was visiting Lawrence.
Memorial stadium is the seventh oldest collegiate in the nation and is also know for being the oldest on-campus
facility west of the Mississippi River. Built in 1921, the venue is dedicated to the university's students that fought and
died in World War I. The horseshoe shaped stadium has room for over 50,000 fans.
A KU Run to Canton
While Jayhawk basketball players such as Wilt Chamberlin, Jo Jo White and
Danny Manning have greatly impacted the professional game, two Kansas
running backs have their busts sitting in the NFL Hall of Fame.
Gale Sayers (1962-64) was the first player in NCAA history to rush for 99
yards from scrimmage. His feat against Nebraska was just a glimpse of his
greatness that led him to being a two-time All-American selection. Sayers
would set six NFL records during his stellar seven year career with the
Chicago Bears that was cut short by a knee injury.
John Riggins (1968-70) was a bulldozing runner that led the Washington
a Super Bowl championship season in 1982. The former J ayhawk was the
MVP of Super Bowl XVII when he ran for 166 yards and a touchdown against
Other notable Kansas performers include Tony Sands who rushed for an
NCAA record 396 yards in a 1991 effort against Missouri. Quarterback John
Hadl (1959-61) earned AlllAmerican honors twice before a successful NFL
career that saw him pass for over 33,000 yards.
Before slashing through NFL
defenses, Sayers starred for