The University of Kansas Jayhawks, also known as KU, is a Division I athletic program that competes in the Big 12 Conference. The school's teams have a long and storied history, particularly in basketball, which has helped to make it one of the most successful athletic programs in the country.

Early Years

The University of Kansas began its athletic program in 1890, when a football team was organized. The basketball program began in 1898, and it quickly became a source of pride for the university. Phog Allen, who coached the team from 1907 to 1909 and from 1919 to 1956, is credited with developing the team's early success.

The Jayhawks enjoyed early success in basketball, winning two conference championships in 1907 and 1908. However, the team struggled for several years before experiencing a resurgence in the 1920s under coach Bill Hargiss. During this time, the team won four conference championships and made its first NCAA tournament appearance in 1940.

Wilt Chamberlain Era

The 1950s and 1960s were dominated by Wilt Chamberlain, who is considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Chamberlain played for the Jayhawks from 1956 to 1958 and led the team to two consecutive conference championships. He set numerous records during his time at KU, including the NCAA record for most rebounds in a single game.

Chamberlain's success helped to establish the Jayhawks as a national power in basketball, and the team continued to experience success in the following decades under coaches Ted Owens and Larry Brown.

Roy Williams Era

In 1988, Roy Williams was hired as the head coach of the Jayhawks basketball team. Williams continued the program's tradition of success, leading the team to four Final Four appearances and two national championship game appearances in 1991 and 2003.

During Williams' tenure, the Jayhawks had a number of standout players, including Raef LaFrentz, Paul Pierce, and Kirk Hinrich. Williams' success helped to cement the Jayhawks as one of the top basketball programs in the country.

Bill Self Era

Since 2003, the Jayhawks have been coached by Bill Self. Under Self's leadership, the team has continued to experience success, winning 14 conference championships and making three Final Four appearances.

The Jayhawks won their fifth national championship in 2008, when they defeated the Memphis Tigers in an overtime thriller. Self has also coached a number of standout players, including Thomas Robinson, Joel Embiid, and Andrew Wiggins.

Other Sports

While the Jayhawks' basketball program is the most well-known part of the athletic program, KU has also experienced success in other sports. The football program has had its ups and downs, but it has produced a number of NFL players, including Gale Sayers, John Riggins, and Aqib Talib.

The university's track and field program has also experienced success, particularly in the high jump. KU alum and Olympic gold medalist Wes Santee was one of the world's top runners in the 1950s, and high jumper Andrea Geubelle won the NCAA championship in 2013.


The University of Kansas Jayhawks have a long and storied history of success in basketball, as well as a number of notable achievements in other sports. The program has produced numerous NBA and NFL players, as well as Olympic athletes and successful coaches. While the Jayhawks have experienced some ups and downs over the years, the program remains one of the most respected and recognizable athletic programs in the country.

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