2008: Shaping Up to Be Another Year of the Jayhawk

Feb. 15, 2008

Dear Jayhawk Fans:

I would like to thank you for the wonderful support you gave our Jayhawk football team in its journey to a record-breaking year. Coach Mark Mangino’s team posted 12 victories – the most ever by any KU football squad in one season – earned our university’s first BCS bowl appearance, defeated a tough Virginia Tech team in the FedEx Orange Bowl and posted a No. 7 national ranking.

With the increased number of team victories has come individual recognition as well. Three Jayhawks received All-American accolades – offensive lineman Anthony Collins and cornerback Aqib Talib earned first-team honors; defensive tackle James McClinton was a second-team pick. Those three were joined on the All-Big 12 First Team by linebacker Joe Mortensen. Four other Jayhawks were named All-Big 12 Second Team, and six more earned All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors.

And, of course, Coach Mangino also drew considerable national attention. He swept the national coaching awards, including the prestigious Associated Press National Coach of the Year honor as well as the coveted American Football Coaches Association’s Football Bowl Subdivision award, notable because that one is voted on by his peers.

The team also gave the Jayhawk faithful a renewed sense of pride, and it particularly showed at Kivisto Field at Memorial Stadium. In 2007, we set a new all-time attendance record, averaging 46,784 fans per game over the seven home-game season. That was the third consecutive year we have bettered our season attendance. In addition, we set a single-game record for attendance when 51,910 fans filled our stadium for the Nebraska game.

You were terrific supporters throughout the year. And, you still have one more opportunity to give this Jayhawk football the praise it deserves. So please join us at Allen Fieldhouse March 8 to celebrate with the team and cheer the players as they receive the well-earned awards.

And speaking of Kivisto Field, have you driven past the stadium lately? The construction of the Anderson Family Football Complex has made huge strides over the past few months. We can all now see for ourselves what a magnificent facility this will be! The building is on-time, on-budget, and we’re all looking forward to the football teams July move-in.

I do not believe spirit has ever been higher across Jayhawk Nation as it is today. You can feel the electricity in the air all across campus and throughout Lawrence. Chalk part of it up to the football team’s magic season, but that is not the complete answer. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the contribution our other sports programs are making to this spirit resurgence.

Obviously, Coach Bill Self’s squad already has set Jayhawk expectations high with its usual sky-high national ranking while in pursuit of KU’s 51st basketball league championship, more than any other NCAA Division 1 basketball program can claim. What a magical season in the making.

Also, check out the resurgence of Coach Bonnie Henrickson’s women’s basketball team. The Jayhawk squad has alerted the Big 12 it will be a force to reckon with this season. The Jayhawks already have eclipsed last season’s win total with plenty of games remaining on the schedule before tournament play. Come join the excitement in Allen Fieldhouse and see for yourself.

The Jayhawk swimming and diving team continues to create waves, having recently dominated Nebraska in a Big 12 dual match. Our tennis team also dominated competition at the recent Hawaii Spring Invitational, and softball’s 5-1 start is its best in five years. Three track-and-field student-athletes rank #1 in the country in their events, and five Jayhawks have already put up NCAA provisional qualifying marks; our men and women’s teams are both nationally ranked.

Also note that when the 2008 USA Baseball National Team is announced in June, Jayhawks’ Baseball Coach Ritch Price will be among its coaches. This is an incredible honor for the veteran Jayhawk skipper.

Good news for the KU rowers as well. All logistical hurdles have been cleared for the construction of the KU Boathouse at Burcham Park in Lawrence. Official groundbreaking will take place Friday, March 7. Special thanks to the KU student body for pitching in financially to make this dream a reality, and to the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for taking the lead on this project.

And finally, I again want to salute our KU student-athletes as a whole. Jayhawks everywhere should be proud that University of Kansas student-athletes earned a combined 2.93 grade-point average during the 2007 fall semester, setting an Athletics Department record for a fall semester. More than 50 percent earned a spot on the Athletics Director’s Honor Roll with grade point averages of 3.0 or better. Forty-eight earned a perfect 4.0.

Our Jayhawks give every ounce of energy to compete in their sports and then go home, completely tired, and study. We have every reason to be proud of them, both in athletic competition and academic competition.

What a year 2008 is shaping up to be.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Lew Perkins
Director of Athletics