K Ring Ceremony Highlights Kansas Athletics Senior Celebration

April 29, 2012

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas athletics presented the student-athlete members of the 2012 senior class with their K Rings in an elegant ceremony held in Allen Fieldhouse Sunday night. The program featured a handful of awards presentations as well as appearances by a host of former Jayhawk greats to help congratulate the graduating seniors on their outstanding Kansas careers.

“Tonight was about honoring our past and enhancing the tradition that goes along with being a part of the Kansas Athletics family,” said Director of Athletics Sheahon Zenger following the ceremony. “It was a perfect way for us to commemorate their graduation and the beginning of their professional lives. It was a great night.”

The highlight of the night came when K Club Director and former KU student-athlete David Johnston presented the nearly 100 Jayhawks with their K rings. Johnston discussed the importance of the rings and how each ring is a symbol of the athletes’ past, present and future.

“The ceremony was a way of presenting them with a symbol of the things they’ve experienced here at KU,” said Johnston. “The K Ring is something they will carry with them for the rest of their lives and hopefully it will be something that allows them to remember the experience they shared as Jayhawks.”

Several seniors were honored in addition to the K Ring ceremony as Kansas dual-sport star Allison Mayfield and football player Tim Biere took home the Bob Frederick Senior Scholar Athlete of the Year Awards.

Mayfield, a four-year starter for KU volleyball, left the program as one of the top outside hitters in program history. Her 462 single-season kills and 3,858 career attempts are the most in Kansas volleyball history, while her 4.12 kills per set in 2011 led the Big 12 Conference and was second-most all-time by a Jayhawk in a single season.

The Overland Park, Kan. native continued her outstanding collegiate career by joining the KU track and field squad as a high jumper and javelin thrower in the winter of 2012. Mayfield has made an immediate impact, already moving to No. 3 on the all-time school high jump list, while ranking in the Big 12’s top-10 in the javelin midway through the outdoor season.

Mayfield also excelled in the classroom, making the Academic All-Big 12 First Team three times as well as the CoSida Capital One Academic All-District Team.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting this,” explained Mayfield after receiving the award. “I’m very honored just knowing some of the great athletes who have won this award in the past. It’s pretty humbling.”

Biere was one of four team captains for the KU football team in 2011, playing in 11 of 12 games during his senior season. Biere’s 29.3 receiving yards per game earned him a spot on the All-Big 12 Honorable Mention list as well as the 2011 Phil Steele Midseason All-Big 12 First Team. He caught for 93 yards versus Oklahoma State, which earned him recognition as the National Tight End of the Week by College Football Performance Awards. The Omaha native also made the Academic All-Big 12 First Team in 2009 as well as the Big 12 Commissioner’s and KU Athletic Director’s honor rolls each year he was eligible.

In addition to the Bob Frederick Senior Scholar Athletes of the Year, the ceremony featured the presentation of the Del Shankel Teaching Excellence Award winner, the Prentice Gautt Postgraduate Scholarship recipients and the K Club Service Award.

More than 500 people, including the student-athletes, their parents, faculty and athletics administrators attended the special event to recognize the outgoing members of the senior class for their accomplishments both in competition and in the classroom.

Prior to the Bob Frederick Senior Scholar Athlete of the Year presentation, KU recognized former KU coaches Bob Timmons and Floyd Temple as the recipients of the K Club Lifetime Service Award. Timmons coached the men’s track and cross country team from 1966-88. He coached an astounding 13 world record holders and led the Jayhawks to four NCAA titles. Temple came to KU as a football player in 1949 but went on to make his mark on the baseball diamond as a player and coach. During his 28 year stint as head coach, he compiled 438 victories and is the winningest coach in Kansas baseball history.

Senior track and cross country stars Rebeka Stowe and Zach Zarda were then honored as they were recognized as KU’s recipients of the Prentice Gautt Postgraduate Scholarship, a $7,500 award given to two student-athletes at each Big 12 institution who have at least a 3.5 GPA and are expected to enroll in a graduate or professional school within 15 months after they graduate.

The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee then took the stage to hand out the Del Shankel Excellence in Teaching Award as voted on by the members of KU’s Student Athlete advisory committee. Dr. Mehrangiz Najafizadeh, an associate professor in the sociology department won the honor over several colleagues who had also been nominated by their students.

The night concluded with a rendition of the alma mater and the Rock Chalk Chant, sending the student-athletes off with a lasting memory to commemorate their outstanding Kansas careers.