Remembering A Most Remarkable Year

Dec. 26, 2007

Dear Jayhawk Fans:

As I write this column, spirit has never been higher across Jayhawk Nation. KU is headed to its first BCS Bowl in our athletic history. Orange Bowl fever is rampant. And to add to the year-end excitement, our Jayhawk basketball team is highly ranked and playing like a future Final Four member.

I believe there may be even more awaiting us in 2008, but let’s enjoy the moment. 2007 was a remarkable year, and it’s worth taking some time to reflect on a few of the many accomplishments our KU student-athletes have achieved this year.

Coach Bill Self’s squad began 2007 by reaching the Elite Eight for the fourth time in six seasons and winning the Big 12 regular-season crown for the third consecutive year. That crown notched KU’s 50th basketball league championship, more than any other school in NCAA Division 1.

KU Track & Field produced a National Champion in hammer thrower Egor Agafonov and the incomparable Colby Wissel captured a Big 12 championship in the indoor 3000-meter. This fall Wissel also was named an All-American for the second consecutive time in cross country.

Our women student-athletes excelled too. Golfer Amanda Costner closed out her career at KU by being named the Big 12’s female Sportsperson of the Year while also winning the individual title at the Big 12 Golf Championships. Kassie Humphreys turned in one of the best softball seasons in Jayhawk history while closing out her career. Humphreys struck out 226, held opponents to a .190 batting average and led the Big 12 in saves. At the plate, she also slammed four home runs and drove in 18 runs.

In this fall’s volleyball season, Emily Brown became the first player in KU volleyball history to reach the 1,000 mark in career kills, digs and assists.

Jayhawks also created a few waves at the Big 12 Swimming & Diving Championships, shattering eight school records en route to a fine third place finish. Shelby Noonan also posted an eighth place finish in the one-meter diving competition at the 2007 NCAA Diving Championships.

In men’s golf, senior Gary Woodland earned All-Big 12 honors for the second consecutive year and closed out his career as a Jayhawk with a phenomenal 18 top-10 finishes. In July, he won his second Kansas Amateur title.

Of course, the KU football team dominated our cheers this fall. Coach Mark Mangino’s team posted 11 straight victories – the most ever by any KU squad and earned their highest national ranking in school history (No. 2) in November. Coach Mangino earned several national Coach-of-the-Year honors, including one from the Associated Press.

On the field, junior cornerback Aqib Talib was named a consensus first-team All-American, joining Gale Sayers (1963 and 1964), John Zook (1968) and David Jaynes (1973), former Jayhawk greats who were also so honored.

Offensive tackle Anthony Collins joined Talib as a first-team Associated Press All-American, while teammate James McClinton, a defensive tackle, earned second-team AP All-America honors.

As remarkable as KU student-athletes have been athletically this past year, another number stands out just as dramatically. Academically, a record 247 student-athletes earned a spot this past Spring on the Athletics Director’s Honor Roll with grade point averages of 3.0 or better. That was an incredible 61 percent of our student-athletes. Just when you come to believe that our student-athletes have given us ever ounce of energy, they remind us just how incredible they can be.

2007 was a remarkable year. I know 2008 will be another in Kansas Athletics.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Lew Perkins
Director of Athletics