Archive for Saturday, August 17, 1991

KU EDITION

August 17, 1991

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The T-shirts are everywhere on campus, around the city and across the nation. They sport colorful Jayhawks or the Kansas University seal.

But if you think T-shirts are the only Jayhawk items out there, look again.

Bud Jennings, a former Kansas University student, is one of those serious Jayhawk fans who's gone beyond the traditional T-shirts to show his support for Mount Oread. The lifelong resident, owner of Bud Jennings Carpets, 2851 Iowa, has a collection of Jayhawk statues spanning more than 75 years.

He can't explain why he started collecting them, but so far the collection totals more than 50, he said. A few years ago, he decided it wasn't right to hide the collection in his home.

"I had them, and people weren't seeing them," he said.

So he contacted KU officials about displaying his collection at Allen Fieldhouse.

Today, visitors to the fieldhouse can view the Jayhawk statues, which are stored in a front case.

The oldest is a 1914 statue made of plaster, but most are bronze, he said. A few are made of lead. They range in size from 1 inch to about 15 inches in height.

WHILE THE collection is gaining attention at the fieldhouse, Jennings said he isn't through yet. He plans to add several more to the collection, including some he's sculpted himself.

Another collection of Jayhawk memorabilia sits in a glass case on the third floor of the Adams Alumni Center, home of the KU Alumni Association. It features "Jayhawks in all kinds of forms," according to Donna Neuner, director of membership services for the alumni association.

The collection covers about 75 years of KU history, with many of the items donated by alumni. They include a corncob Jayhawk from the Class of '35 and souvenirs of various senior breakfasts and other items marketed through the years, she said.

"Some are very old," she said of the collection.

The collection includes brief information of each item, and most of the labels include the names of the persons who donated them.

The alumni center collection can be viewed during regular center hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Neuner said.

The center also keeps a full collection of Jayhawker yearbooks, dating back to their beginning, 1893, she said.

A FEW STEPS down the hall, in another display case are some of the more current Jayhawk items, offered for sale to members of the alumni association. They include scarves, rings, watches, limited edition bronze Jayhawk sculptures and pewter coasters.

"We add one or two items a year usually," Neuner said of the memorabilia. "Some are limited. At any one time, we have 12 to 15 items that we market."

She said association officials are careful about the items they sell, making sure that they're not in competition with the Kansas Union bookstores.

The items are exclusive not available in stores or through other catalogs, she said. And alumni center officials are careful to select high quality items that "represent the university in a quality way," she said.

Alumni, as well as students and visitors, are also stopping by the campus bookstore, according to Mike Reid, manager of the KU bookstores and director of licensing for the university.

The KU men's basketball team's trip to the Final Four championship helped bring many into the bookstores in search of some Jayhawk memorabilia, but that didn't last too long, he said.

"THE FINAL FOUR came and went fairly quickly," Reid said.

So what remains are the steady KU supporters seeking everything from clothing to jewelry to squeeze bottles.

"As always, clothing is much in demand," Reid said. "Sweatshirts have built quite a market."

KU jewelry earrings, necklaces, watches and pins, to name a few also do well each year.

"They're fairly big with the alumni crowd," Reid said.

And, with warmer weather, items used for drinking, such as KU can coolers and squeeze bottles or mugs, have been popular.

Other memorabilia available at the bookstores includes socks, infantwear, temporary tattoos featuring colorful mini-Jayhawks, ties, golf balls, playing cards, glassware and sweatbands.

In the 1989-90 year, about $4.6 million of Jayhawk memorabilia had been sold nationwide, said Reid, who gathered the statistics through the KU licensing program he operates. A share of that $200,000 this year goes for student scholarships through the KU Endowment Assocation, he said.

AND REID is quick to acknowledge that Jayhawk memorabilia can show up anywhere. No longer are the campus bookstores the only barometer of how KU-related sales are going.

He uses the Final Four sales as an example. In 1986, he said, there were probably two stores in Lawrence selling Final Four memorabilia. This past spring, temporary locations were set up in various spots around the city.

Today, the KU bookstores account for 14 percent of the KU memorabilia sold, he said. At one time, they had a 75 percent share.

"It's getting to be more statewide and national . . .," Reid said.

As part of his licensing duties, Reid receives a preview of any new Jayhawk items before they hit the market.

"I receive samples to approve or not approve," he said. Among those he's had to turn down were KU diapers. They had KU on the outside of the diaper and Kansas State University on the inside.

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