K Ring Celebration Honors KU Senior Student-Athletes & Linda Sims

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas Athletics presented the student-athletes of the 2024 senior class with their K Rings in a ceremony held at the Kansas Union Woodruff Auditorium on Sunday evening. The program featured several awards presentations as well as appearances by a host of former Jayhawk greats to help congratulate the graduating seniors on their outstanding Kansas careers.

More than 300 people, including the student-athletes, parents, faculty and athletics administrators, and more than 20 K Club members consisting of former KU student-athletes attended the event to recognize the outgoing members of the senior graduating class for their accomplishments both in competition and in the classroom.

The highlight of the night came when former KU student-athlete and current associate athletics director of engagement and outreach Wayne Simien presented the nearly 100 Jayhawks with their K rings. Simien, who served as the emcee for the evening, discussed the importance of the rings and how each ring is a symbol of the athletes’ past, present and future.

Senior soccer player Shira Elinav and track/cross country senior TJ Robinson were honored as the as KU’s recipients of the Prentice Gautt Postgraduate Scholarship, a $9,000 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 Prentice Gautt Postgraduate Scholarship was presented by KU associate athletics director Ryan King and Dr. Sandra Gautt, widow of Prentice Gautt, who lives in Lawrence.

Kansas women’s basketball player Holly Kersgieter was the senior student-athlete speaker. She spoke about her journey to Kansas in becoming a KU graduate and how that was similar to many of the others being honored at the K Ring Celebration.

Then, Kersgieter and football tight end Mason Fairchild took home the Robert E. Frederick Senior Scholar Athletes of the Year awards. Goff presented the honors to Kersgieter and Fairchild.

Kersgieter is a four-time All-Big 12 selection after receiving honorable mention this past season. The Sand Springs, Oklahoma guard is KU’s all-time leader in three-pointers made with 270. Kersgieter averaged 11.6 points per game this past season and made 62 threes. For her career, Kersgieter started 122 of 148 games played at Kansas and ended No. 5 on KU’s all-time scoring list with 1,929 career points. A four-time Academic All-Big 12 honoree, Kersgieter was the 2023 recipient of the Marlene Mawson Exemplary Woman Student-Athlete Award last season.

Last fall, Fairchild concluded his senior season earning All-Big 12 recognition for the second-straight season. In 2023, the Andale native had 27 receptions for 451 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 16.7 yards per reception. Fairchild concluded his KU career ranked fourth in school history for receptions by a tight end with 82 for 1,111 yards and 10 touchdowns. Off the field, Fairchild was a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy and a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. He was named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team three times (2020-22) and was named to the Academic All-Rookie team as a freshman in 2019. Following the 2023 season, Fairchild was named Second Team Academic All-America® as selected by College Sports Communicators (CSC).

KU recognized former swimmer Linda Sims as the recipient of the K Club Lifetime Service Award. Sims graduated from Kansas in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. She went on to have a successful career at Exxon. In recognition of her contributions to the university, Sims received the Fred Ellsworth Medallion in 2011 – the highest honor bestowed by the KU Alumni Association. She retired from ExxonMobil in 2012. Sims is extremely active with the University and Kansas Athletics through K Club where she has served on its board. Sims, and her husband Russ, are diehard supporters of all KU sports, student-athletes and coaches.

Director of Athletics Travis Goff kicked off the evening’s celebration by congratulating the student-athletes on their accomplishments on the field and in the classroom. He also honored the parents and guardians of the seniors in the crowd for their efforts in getting the student-athletes to this stage in their lives.

The night concluded with a rendition of the alma mater and the Rock Chalk Chant led by the K Club Board members, followed by a reception.