Dear Jayhawk Fans:

As I write this column, distribution of the 2007-08 Kansas Athletics annual report is underway. Appropriately entitled Season of Champions, the annual report is a fine tribute to all our student-athletes who contributed to an incredible year in our history.

And it wasn’t just athletics that made it a year to remember. Academically, our student-athletes again proved they can be equally as impressive in the classroom as in athletic competition. Records for combined GPA were set in both semesters. In addition, there were an unprecedented 106 perfect 4.0’s.

How can we improve on last year? With an Orange Bowl victory, an NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship and an historic season for our Track and Field athletes, it is certainly a valid question. The answer is we WILL get better because our goals haven’t changed. We aspire to have all of our programs competing – and winning – at the highest levels of Division I athletics year after year. Last season was great, but it was just the beginning. We’re just getting started.

Season of Champions is enjoyable, informative and with lots of wonderful pictures of our student-athletes in action. But permit me to draw your attention to one particular section of the annual report – the Kansas Athletics Strategic Plan Progress Report. It should be a must read for all Jayhawks interested in the exciting direction KU is headed.

We are at the mid-point of the five-year trek designed to take our Jayhawk sports programs to new thresholds of success. As you will see in the Progress Report, we have made major advances in the journey, but allow me to highlight one particular area.

To enhance the student-athlete experience, as well as ensure the best entertainment environment in the country for fans, we have undertaken renovations at many of our sports venues. You are already familiar with many of them, including the state-of-the-art video boards in Allen Fieldhouse and at Hoglund Ballpark, as well as the continuing enrichment of the Booth Family Hall of Athletics. Especially new this year is an outdoor luxury seating section behind the south end zone at Kivisto Field at Memorial Stadium.

By the end of December, we will have completed over the past five years some $63 million in renovation and construction of Kansas Athletics facilities. Just this past summer, the long-awaited $33 million Anderson Family Football Complex at Kivisto Field opened to considerable acclaim as our program’s football headquarters. It is just a milestone. More is on the way.

As part of our facilities master plan, we have begun major renovations to the Kansas Athletics complex, including Allen Fieldhouse, Horejsi Family Athletic Center, Wagnon Student-Athlete Center and the Parrot Athletics Complex. The centerpiece of this effort is the construction of a new basketball practice facility, surrounded by Allen, Horejsi and Wagnon. Cost of the entire project likely will exceed $55 million.

Other projects nearing completion include new outdoor courts for our tennis team, a $6 million boathouse on the Kaw, a $2 million baseball clubhouse and a training facility for the golf teams. Potential upgrades and new facilities include those for soccer, softball, swimming and track.

As you can see, we still have much work to do to enhance the student-athlete experience at KU and to provide you the venues you deserve. But we are justly proud of our progress and we hope you are too.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Lew Perkins
Director of Athletics