Chris Kaufman says Kansas University's annual fall homecoming isn't a huge draw for alumni wanting to return to campus.
So Kaufman, co-director of the Homecoming Steering Committee, is hoping to make homecoming an event current students won't want to miss in the future.
"We hope students have such a great time at homecoming that they'll want to come back as alums," he said.
That's why this year's homecoming includes a performance by Bill Cosby and an array of other high-profile events organizers hope will inspire school spirit.
The activities started Saturday, with the Spirit Sprint 5K Run/Walk and will conclude at 6:20 p.m. next Saturday with the KU-Kansas State University football game.
Cosby will serve as a headliner for the week's activities when he performs at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.
KU also will host Bill Rancic, winner of the first "The Apprentice" reality TV show. His speech, at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Kansas Union Ballroom, is free.
Kaufman said his committee was trying to jump-start a KU tradition of bringing in big-name entertainers for homecoming.
"This is something students, alumni and the community can get together for, other than the football game," he said.
Other events are geared toward getting more students involved in homecoming.
The committee is organizing a series of "Jayhawk Idol" singing competitions, modeled after the "American Idol" TV show. The winner will sing the national anthem at the first KU basketball game.
On Thursday, KU will throw a block party and pep rally from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at South Park, featuring appearances by football coach Mark Mangino and football players.
For those wanting to take out their frustrations about KU's 11-game football losing streak against Kansas State, a purple car will be on the lawn of Stauffer-Flint Hall all day Friday.
"If you're wearing crimson and blue, you get a free whack at it with a sledge hammer," Kaufman said.
And an Olympian -- KU track star Charlie Gruber, who qualified for the Athens Games on the U.S. Olympic team in the 1,500-meter run -- will preside as grand marshal at Saturday's homecoming parade, which begins at 11 a.m. on Jayhawk Boulevard.
Kaufman said organizers hoped the expanded offerings would appeal to a wider Jayhawk following.
"Each day is packed with as many events as we could," he said.
|A look at the events scheduled for Kansas University homecoming:Today¢ Noon-5 p.m.: Day of Caring, community service projects throughout the community.¢ 1 p.m.: Spirit Sing auditions, Alderson Auditorium.Monday¢ All day: Homecoming murals on display, Strong Hall rotunda.¢ 11:20 p.m.: Feed Your Beak Pizza Eating Contest, Wescoe Beach.¢ 12:20 p.m.: "Jayhawk Idol" finalists perform, Wescoe Beach.Tuesday¢ 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Jayhawk 'Can'-struction, Wescoe Beach.¢ 12:20 p.m.: "Jayhawk Idol" finalists perform, Wescoe Beach.¢ 8 p.m.: Bill Cosby performance, Allen Fieldhouse. Tickets are $15 for students and $25 for the public, and doors open at 6:30 p.m.Wednesday¢ 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Chalk 'n' Rock art competition, Wescoe Beach.¢ 12:20 p.m.: "Jayhawk Idol" finalists perform, Wescoe Beach.¢ 8 p.m.: "Lessons Learned from the Board Room," speech by Bill Rancic of "The Apprentice," Kansas Union Ballroom. Free.Thursday¢ 4 p.m.: 3 on 3 basketball tournament, Student Recreation Fitness Center.¢ 6 p.m.: Block party and pep rally, South Park.¢ 6:30 p.m.: Spirit Sing finals, South Park.Friday¢ 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Crimson and Blue Day, Stauffer-Flint Lawn.¢ 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: K-State Car Bash, Stauffer-Flint Lawn.¢ 7:30 p.m.: Homecoming concert with the KU Wind Ensemble, Lied Center. Tickets are $5 and $7.¢ 9 p.m.-11 p.m.: Homecoming dance. Adams Alumni Center.Saturday¢ 8 a.m.-11 a.m.: Pancake feed, Stauffer-Flint lawn. $4.¢ 11 a.m.: Homecoming parade, Jayhawk Boulevard.¢ 6:20 p.m.: KU vs. Kansas State football game, Memorial Stadium.|