2022 Year in Review
Happy New Year, ‘Hawks!
I hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday season and are looking forward to 2023. As always, this time of year offers a unique opportunity to reflect on a past year that included so many remarkable highlights, including:
- A men’s basketball national championship
- Our football team playing its first bowl game since 2008
- Hosting ESPN’s College GameDay for football for the first time
- Our women’s basketball team reaching the Top 25 for the first time since 2013
- Successful postseason appearances from tennis, men’s golf and volleyball, in addition to the aforementioned men’s basketball, women’s basketball and football
- The announcement of our “Gateway” Project at 11th and Mississippi Streets
- The launch of our Strategic Plan, “To the Stars”
One of Kansas Athletics’ core values is accountability so I felt it important to look back on my message from one year ago that outlined key priorities for 2022. I’ve copied the list below and outlined our progress in italics beneath:
Original Goal: Continue to navigate the challenges associated with COVID-19 by working closely with our medical partners and our campus leadership. We will continue to put the health and safety of our student-athletes at the forefront;
End of Year Update: While COVID-19 influenced many aspects of 2022, our doctors, athletic trainers, and many other dedicated staff committed countless hours and energy to ensure the healthiest and smoothest path forward. Importantly, we made tremendous strides in the critical realm of mental health in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. We added a second full-time mental health clinician and will soon hire a licensed clinical psychologist fully dedicated to our student-athlete population. This tripling in personnel investment moves us closer to providing world-class support for our student-athletes’ mental wellbeing and mental performance.
Original Goal: Launch a comprehensive Strategic Plan to guide the future of Kansas Athletics for the next five years and provide a detailed evaluation of the entire department;
End of the Year Update: On October 26, we unveiled our comprehensive strategic plan, “To the Stars” (link here), which will serve as a roadmap to future success in an everchanging world of college athletics. We are excited to monitor our progress and update our stakeholders throughout 2023.
Original Goal: Enhance a culture that is built upon our core values: integrity, accountability, commitment to excellence, resiliency, optimism, inclusivity, authenticity, competitiveness and togetherness;
End of the Year Update: Emphasized in our strategic plan, our core values are being permeated throughout our department’s culture. I could list countless examples where our staff has demonstrated their commitment to inclusivity, optimism, togetherness, among others. I’m thankful for the dedicated coaches and staff who have embraced professional growth and am confident we will continue to grow in our commitment to our values.
Original Goal: Bolster our commitment to supporting our perennial championship-contending men’s basketball program; additionally, we will make substantial progress toward a resolution in the NCAA investigation;
End of the Year Update: Who will ever forget Monday, April 4, 2022? Coach Self, his staff and incredible team cut down the nets in New Orleans and reached the mountaintop. They will forever go down in history. Since that moment, we have made progress in critical areas of investment in supporting men’s basketball, including soon finalizing a major renovation to Allen Fieldhouse and enhancing our efforts in name, image and likeness for a very deserving group. Additionally, we announced and implemented self-imposed sanctions in response to our NCAA case that we are hopeful will assist in bringing the case to a conclusion in 2023. Going forward, we will never concede when it comes to fueling the winningest men’s basketball program in history.
Original Goal: Build on the momentum of the 2021 football season and challenge all Jayhawks to invest in a program that will be built for sustained success under Coach Leipold;
End of the Year Update: The 2022 football team demonstrated to Jayhawks across the world that we can expect excellence in that program. In 2022, we reached a bowl game for the first time in 14 years, posted three sellouts, signed Coach Leipold to a new 7-year contract, further invested in his tremendous staff, and have begun planning for a major renovation of the Anderson Family Football Complex, the day-to-day home for our football student-athletes. (More on David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium – the Gateway project – below). Rest assured, the future is bright but there is much work to be done to capitalize on our momentum and continue our trajectory.
Original Goal: Evaluate needs, embrace expectations and support ALL of our programs to ensure broad-based success for Kansas Athletics and an investment in each of our student-athletes;
End of the Year Update: Whether it be women’s basketball’s continued ascension, now ranked in the top 25, or volleyball’s back-to-back NCAA tournament runs, I am bullish on the bright future of all of our programs. Looking ahead to 2023, it will be important that we continue to customize our support and expectations for each of our teams in order to achieve a comprehensively successful athletics program.
Original Goal: Continue to utilize Jayhawks Ascend and its four pillars to navigate the ever-changing landscape of name, image and likeness (NIL);
End of the Year Update: In 2022, we hired two full-time Directors of NIL as well as brought on a top national consultant in Altius to ensure best practices in this space. We have demonstrated our support of Mass St. collective and focused on educating our student-athletes and supporters about the opportunities NIL provides. It is imperative we continue to grow in this space.
Original Goal: Partner with KU Endowment to launch a philanthropic-focused fundraising program that will ask all Jayhawks to join in profoundly elevating the support of our programs;
End of the Year Update: Important steps in Development were made in 2022 that better position us for success moving forward. We unveiled a new framework outlining the difference between the Williams Fund and the new Ad Astra Society, a philanthropic program that will fuel our ambitions within the strategic plan (click here). We have entered into a critical fundraising stretch as we seek leadership support for our two capital project priorities.
Original Goal: Move forward with capital project planning, which will include an ambitious vision to transform David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium in a manner that will have a profound impact on all of our KU programs and our broader communities. We will also look to finalize long-discussed renovations for Allen Fieldhouse.
End of the Year Update: We reflect on 2022 as a year in which major progress was made in our facility transformations of both David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium (the “Gateway” project at 11th and Mississippi streets – click here) as well as Allen Fieldhouse (more information on a major renovation coming in 2023). These two projects will serve as catalysts for our football and men’s and women’s basketball programs and will provide value to both our campus and Lawrence communities and beyond. It is imperative that we move these efforts forward in a tangible manner in 2023.
While we did not achieve every goal in 2022, I am incredibly proud of the achievements articulated above. I closed last year’s message challenging all of us to “do something special in 2022”. Without hesitation, that challenge was accepted and fulfilled by our dedicated student-athletes, coaches, staff and supporters who elevated Kansas Athletics to new heights.
We wish a healthy, happy and fruitful 2023 for you and your family. And cheers to another step forward for Kansas Athletics in our pursuit to be exceptional in everything we pursue.
Thank you for your support of the University of Kansas.