Archive for Saturday, August 16, 2003

Rock Chalk Chant

August 16, 2003


Rock Chalk Chant

The Rock Chalk Chant has been the battle cry of KU fans for more than 80 years. This strange, traditional chant, which is among the most famous of all college cheers, was started by E.H.S. Bailey, a professor of chemistry.

Bailey wanted a cheer for his Science Club. Returning from a convention in Wichita, Bailey and some associates patterned a yell after the rhythmic cadence of their train rolling along the tracks. On May 21, 1886, Bailey submitted the cheer to his club. Even though there was no football team at KU until 1890, the Rock Chalk Chant tradition steadily grew.

Before the University adopted the cheer in 1897, it consisted of "Rah, Rah, Jayhawk, KU" being repeated three times. An English professor soon suggested that "Rock Chalk" be substituted for "Rah, Rah" because it rhymed with Jayhawk. "Rock Chalk" also was symbolic of the chalky limestone formations found on Mount Oread.

School colors

Kansas University's colors, crimson and blue, used since the early 1890s, are not the colors originally adopted by the university Board of Regents in the 1860s. The regents had decided to adopt the Michigan colors, maize and sky blue.

Maize and blue were used at early oratorical meets, and they may have been used when Kansas competed in rowing in the middle 1880s. However, when football came upon the scene in 1890, the student backers wanted to use Harvard crimson as the athletic color in honor of Col. John J. McCook, a Harvard man who had given money for an athletic field at KU. That field ran east and west in the proximity of where the north bowl of Memorial Stadium stands on the Kansas campus today.

Before then, Kansas football games were played at Central Park on Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence.

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