University of Kansas

Rock Chalk Jayhawk: What in the world does that KU chant mean?

Rock Chalk Jayhawk: KU basketball traditions fill ‘The Phog’

From early in the day until the moment of tip off for a game, Kansas basketball is steeped in tradition in Allen Fieldhouse.
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From early in the day until the moment of tip off for a game, Kansas basketball is steeped in tradition in Allen Fieldhouse.

If you’re a KU sports fan, the chant might give you goosebumps as it carries through Allen Fieldhouse at the end of a big basketball victory.

If you’re an opponent, it means you’re about to lose and the crowd is making sure you know it.

But what exactly is the Rock Chalk Jayhawk chant, and where did it come from?

The cheer dates back to 1886, according to the University of Kansas, when chemistry Professor E.H.S. Bailey created it for the KU science club.

In Bailey’s version, you repeated “Rah, Rah, Jayhawk, KU” three times. That was later replaced by “Rock Chalk,” which references chalk rock, the limestone found on Mount Oread on the Lawrence campus.

Teddy Roosevelt said it was the greatest college chant he’d ever heard, according to the university, and legend has it that troops used the chant when fighting in several wars and conflicts.

The cheer is one of many traditions in Kansas sports, such as “waving the wheat” and the Jayhawk itself, which is “a hybrid of blue jay and sparrow hawk that epitomized the quarrelsome pre-Civil War settlers on the Kansas frontier,” according to the university.

Back in 2011, KU basketball superfan Kat Steward earned some national TV time with her elaborate tattoo, which included “Rock Chalk Jayhawk,” Allen Fieldhouse and more.

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When ESPN's College Gameday came to Allen Fieldhouse in 2011, Kat Steward of Wichita showed off her Rock Chalk Jayhawk tattoo. Stewart said it took 18 hours over two years to complete. Rich Sugg rsugg@kcstar.com

Tough to beat the enthusiasm of #KUtatKat, who is now Kat Collins and lives in Lenexa, but you’re sure to hear that Rock Chalk Jayhawk chant from KU fans loud and clear during those big games.

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