Has there ever been a better time to be a fan of the University of Kansas and its athletic department? It might be tough to find another time in the school’s storied history to match what is currently happening around KU on and off the field.
Still riding the wave of momentum from a 2022 national championship in basketball, the Jayhawks were able to transform their team for the first time in the transfer portal era after losing 80% of the players from last year’s Big 12 championship team. All they did was land the #1 transfer in the portal, 7’2” center Hunter Dickinson from Michigan. The Jayhawks have also been awarded the #1 ranking in ESPN’s “way-too-early top 25” poll.
Not only are things looking bright in the very near future, but Kansas also landed the #1 center in the 2024 class this past week. Flory Bidunga, the five-star center and Indiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year, chose KU over Duke, Michigan, and Auburn. Before that, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan State, and others were in the mix. Head coach Bill Self seems to have his succession plan to Hunter Dickinson in place and that’s another thing for Jayhawk fans to be excited about going forward.
Of course, Kansas basketball is always top-of-mind when it comes to athletic teams on KU’s campus. However, the football team is in the process of making a name for itself now. Head coach Lance Leipold took over a program in disarray. The Jayhawk football team won exactly zero games in 2020 before Leipold took over in 2021. KU won two games in Leipold’s first season before winning six games in year two. Leipold led Kansas to their first bowl game since 2008.
Recruiting continues to get better and the Jayhawks were able to keep diamond-in-the-rough quarterback Jalon Daniels, who was a Heisman candidate before an injury last season and is Big 12 preseason offensive player of the year heading into 2023. The arrow continues to point up for the Jayhawks football program and more wins this season will continue to bolster the momentum on the field.
All of this momentum has also led to promising endeavors off-the-field and off-the-court as well. Kansas recently announced a brand new Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) undergraduate certification program. According to the University of Kansas press release, the certificate can serve both students who are interested in working in the NIL space as well as student-athletes at KU that are looking for training on how to manage their own name, image, and likeness. The curriculum will be focused on sports management, athlete and personal branding, content creation, and more. Kansas is leading the way in this medium as it is the first type of program like this to be founded in the nation. There will likely be more schools to follow, but Kansas seems to be spearheading this movement.
The resurgence of the Kansas football program is also bringing a new project to campus called The KU Gateway District. There will be a lot involved in this project, but one of the highlights includes building onto David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. The start of this first phase will begin immediately following the 2023 football season and is expected to be finished by the start of the 2025 season. Amenities on the outside of the stadium will be part of the once-in-a-lifetime project that boosts the local economy, add jobs to campus, and have a lasting impact for generations. Plans for the district will also include a combination of new retail, dining, living spaces, and a conference center that can be used by the city of Lawrence for a variety of opportunities including concerts and more.
It is a thrilling time to be a Kansas Jayhawks fan. Not only are the teams you follow ready to
compete at the highest level, but the projects that are beginning around the stadium will bring a
new excitement to the gameday experience and throughout the community year-round.