Never underestimate the reach of a powerhouse basketball program.
I’ve had a student from China tell me, when settling on an American university to attend, that he picked KU because he’d heard of its basketball team and thought it was cool. I know people who never attended KU who got tattoos of Jayhawks because of their love for the basketball team. This month, a more quantified example of its impact came out.
The latest “Kansas Brand Power Survey” from Wichita-based RSA Marketing Services says KU and the Jayhawks are the state’s top brand, again. According to RSA, their online survey asked 500 Kansans to name the Kansas-based brand they thought was the most famous.
Mike Snyder, COO and Principal at RSA, said in a press release that the the inclusion of “basketball” on the list (at No. 8) “definitely reflects the strong presence of KU, K-State and WSU in national basketball rankings." Surprisingly absent, RSA noted, was football powerhouse K-State, as well as Wichita State, just off two years of high-profile NCAA basketball performances.
Of course, it’s certainly possible that the survey-takers had in mind the KU campus, its research programs or other talking points the school works hard to market. But in this case, I’m putting my money on the basketball team.
The Top 10 most famous Kansas-based brands for 2015:
- Wizard of Oz
- Pizza Hut
For comparison, here’s the same list from 2014 (note: the question was slightly different, asking for “favorite” instead of “most famous” Kansas-based brands).
- Free State Brewery
- Pizza Hut
- Boulevard Brewery
- Russell Stover
- Koch Industries
Spot any other KU rankings lately, or have other tips for this blog or my KU coverage for the Journal-World? Contact me by email at email@example.com, by phone at 832-7187 or on Twitter @saramarieshep.
For Iona College President Joseph Nyre, Tuesday's men's basketball game between his school and the Kansas University Jayhawks was one part competition, one part homecoming. Nyre holds Ed.s (education specialist) and PhD degrees from the KU School of Education, and he met his wife at the university. Last night Nyre had to put aside his longtime affection for KU basketball to root for his Gaels.
"I've never rooted against them (the Jayhawks) until tonight," he said. (Unfortunately for Nyre, his rooting came to no end: His Gaels lost by 20.)
Much has changed since Nyre last visited the KU campus 10 years ago. A football practice field sits atop what used to be parking lots, and the Booth Family Hall of Athletics now greets Allen Fieldhouse guests at the eastern entrance.
Nyre's journey down memory lane Tuesday included visits with education school professors he knew from his time as a graduate student. He also chatted with local media in Lawrence, including KU Sports' Tom Keegan and yours truly. Only now do I realize I forgot to ask him the most pertinent question of all: Is the Iona Gael's cane for walking, for hitting or for fashion purposes? Alas, I might never know. But I must move on somehow...
Nyre grew up in Wisconsin and went to school just about everywhere. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse and went on to receive an M.A. in Educational and Counseling Psychology at the University of Missouri. At Mizzou, Nyre said, he learned more about KU's special education program. Crossing the border, he got his PhD in school psychology from KU and then he was off to Harvard for post-doc work.
Nyre became Iona president in 2011. With Iona just north of New York City, Nyre has been able to meet with Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little on her occasional ventures to the Big Apple for national higher education gatherings. Nyre heaped high praise on Gray-Little — "I think the world of her and the work she's doing" — and said he was also excited to "share" New York's Iona with Kansas and the Midwest.
Whether Kansans were in the mood to have Iona shared with them is another question for another day. And it's one that does not matter to me, at least not until I find out what the Gael's cane is for. If you know, please share with me — along with any KU news tips you might have — at firstname.lastname@example.org