KU LEADS is a student-athlete development unit that focuses on leadership training, community engagement, and professional development to enhance the student-athlete experience. KU LEADS works in collaboration with K Club, our alumni group, to teach the student-athletes the history and traditions of Kansas Athletics. The goal of KU LEADS is to support current student-athletes, connect past and present student-athletes, and educate student-athletes the professional skills necessary to succeed at the University of Kansas and throughout their personal and professional life.

Mission Statement

The mission of KU LEADS is to develop committed student-athlete leaders who represent the University of Kansas and its intercollegiate athletic programs with pride, integrity, and intense competitive spirit.


Student-Athlete Advisory Committee

SAAC is comprised of representatives from each athletic team at the University of Kansas. As a governing body of the student athlete community, SAAC’s executive board works with the Big 12 Conference and NCAA to implement newly enacted legislation and represent the interests over 500 KU student-athletes. SAAC strives to enhance the student-athlete experience and protect student-athlete wellbeing. The representatives of SAAC contribute to educational/leadership development opportunities for all student-athletes through organizing and participating in athletic department events, campus activities and community service.

SAAC WHY Statement

SAAC dedicates itself to connecting student-athletes to an environment that fosters growth, education, and inclusion. SAAC believes in building a strong sense of Jayhawk pride, integrity and competitive spirit while simultaneously improving the student-athlete experience, as well as the lives of the surrounding community.

Freshman Leadership Academy

The KU LEADS Freshmen Leadership Academy provides student-athletes with the opportunity to interact with trained leadership mentors throughout their first year experience. Athletes meet weekly with their mentors and explore leadership constructs such as values exploration, life balance, personal brand development, effective communication, conflict transformation and social competency.  The goal is to help the student athlete develop physically, intellectually, socially and emotionally as they navigate their transition into intercollegiate athletics. By emphasizing development in areas in addition to athletics, KU LEADS believes student athletes will be better equipped to overcome life’s challenges, better prepared to succeed on and off the playing field and more committed to the University of Kansas and our community.

Emergent Leaders Retreat

Part of the mission of KU Leads is to assist coaches with a seamless leadership transition between existing captains and emergent sophomore and junior leaders. To aid in that process, KU Leads has select student-athletes take part in an intense, highly interactive and energetic leadership enhancement experience in the form of a leadership retreat. The retreat prepares student athletes for leadership by empowering them to enact positive change within individual teams as well as across the department. During the retreat, student-athletes explore personal strengths and develop strategies to become more effective at communication, ethical decision making and dealing with change.


KU R.I.S.E. (Redefine. Inspire. Support. Empower.) is a program that dedicates itself towards providing a safe space and community for any student-athletes who identifies as a minority. The programming consist of discussions and activities that are real and relevant topics in an environment that fosters support and empowerment.
Jayhawk Peak Performance

Jayhawk Peak Performance

Jayhawk Peak Performance is committed to maximize the optimal performance and wellness of a student-athlete in their sport. Jayhawk Peak Performance is our sport psychology service used by ALL student-athletes, teams, coaches, and others to help gain a competitive edge. Scott (Scooter) Ward, Ph. D. is in his 16th year with the KU Athletics department and is the Associate Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Development. In this, Ward works with KU LEADS as the Director of Jayhawk Peak Performance. Jayhawk Peak Performance sessions provide mental performance training in a variety of forms ranging from individual meetings, group or team sessions, or workshops. Jayhawk Peak Performance emphasizes the use of mental skill training, mental toughness, goal setting, imagery, confidence building, and self-talk. Jayhawk Peak Performance sessions are positive, instructional, and solution-focused. In coordination with Kansas Athletics Wellness Coordinator, Jayhawk Peak Performance can also refer student-athletes to additional mental health resources through other professional agencies.
Career Development

Compete Everywhere

KU LEADS offers a career development experience available for all student-athletes. We encourage our student-athletes to participate in university career development initiatives alongside KU LEADS student-athlete career development activities because they are specifically designed to utilize their unique sport experience. Career development activities are woven in each year of the student-athlete experience to offer yearly progressive development.

Career Exploration

Every Freshman Student-Athlete takes the strong interest inventory, one of the most respected career planning tools. The strong interest inventory assists in the exploration of career interests.

Resume Workshops

Monthly Resume workshops are available for all student athletes to learn how to create and perfect a resume. Individual appointments and assistance is available and provided as needed!

Jayhawk Career Communities

Jayhawk Career Communities offer the opportunity for all student-athletes to discover a Jayhawk network within their academic discipline. Community events bring together faculty, alumni, of an academic major to provide career mentorship and opportunities to build relationships across campus and the Kansas City area.

Mock Interviews

Student-Athletes understand the importance of practice. Kansas Athletics ensures every student-athlete has the opportunity to practice an interview prior to having a real job interview to ensure top performance and success.


Whether student-athletes plan to stay around the Kansas City area or travel outside of Kansas for their career, they can stay connected with our Jayhawk Athletic Alumni networking group online. Individual assistance in profile creation is provided as needed.

Jayhawk Career Night

The Jayhawk Career Night is the annual evening to build relationships with a variety of over 40 employers and 40 alumni of various professions. Regardless of a student-athletes year in school or career interests, there is something to gain from the experience of attending our Student-Athlete Career Night.

University Resources

Once a Jayhawk Always a Jayhawk. Kansas Student-Athletes are fortunate to be apart of a community that supports career development. Student-Athletes are encouraged to use University Resources, University Career Alliance and Alumni Association, along side Kansas Athletics and K Club resources.


Rock Chalk Choice Awards

The purpose of the Rock Chalk Choice Awards is to increase competition, both athletically and academically, among the University of Kansas student-athletes. To be invited, a student-athlete must meet specific academic or athletic criteria. Academically, a student-athlete must earn a minimum grade point average of 3.0 in either fall or spring semester preceding the event. From an athletic standpoint, a student-athlete may attend if he/she is nominated for an award that recognizes athletic achievements from the previous year. Kansas student-athletes and teams are nominated by coaches and their peers various awards:

  • Jayhawker Award – The Jayhawker Award is presented in honor of the pioneers who held true to their values through devastation and hardship while founding the state of Kansas. The nominees of this award must exhibit commitment to Kansas principles and demonstrate mental toughness in the face of adversity and competition while making a positive contribution to Kansas Athletics.
  • Best Jayhawk in a Supporting Role – The Best Jayhawk in a Supporting Role Award is presented to a student-athlete who demonstrates extraordinary sportsmanship, support and loyalty to teammates and Kansas Athletics.
  • Crimson Climb – The Crimson Climb Award is presented to a student-athlete who has overcome academic challenges and has made consistent academic progress.
  • True Blue Award – The True Blue Award is given to a student-athlete who demonstrates devotion to excellence in academics and athletics while advancing Kansas Athletics through participation in various student organizations and community service projects.


Traditions Night

On Traditions Night, KU LEADS brings all freshman student athletes together to learn about the various traditions of the athletic department and the University of Kansas. We gather the student athletes at the Anderson Family Football Complex to hear from our K Club members and learn about the various traditions and historic beginnings of the University of Kansas. After the student athlete hear from our K Club members and our athletic director, we escort them to Memorial Stadium where they join the rest of their freshman class to learn The Alma Mater, Waving the Wheat, and The Rock Chalk Chant. The student athletes learn these chants and the history behind them which is essential to becoming a Jayhawk.

Kansas Jayhawks

Jayhawk Senior Celebration

The purpose of the Jayhawk Senior Celebration honors student athletes, who have exhausted their athletic eligibility and are on track to graduate during the academic year, with the presentation of their K Ring. Each recipient must also be a former letter winner within their respective sport. K Rings are presented not by team, but by recognizing the class members of various sports, demonstrating their uniquely shared experience. The ceremony is two-fold to signify the conclusion of the collegiate athletic career while introducing the prospective graduate as a new member of the Jayhawk family, reinforcing the Kansas Athletics message of “Once a Jayhawk… Always a Jayhawk.”