Gale Sayers, the greatest football player ever to wear a Kansas uniform, will be in attendance at Saturday's game against Sam Houston State.
If Sayers happens to notice Tent No. 2 near the bottom of the hill during pregame tailgating, it's doubtful he will find anything he sees during the game as meaningful.
For Sayers, the term "student-athlete" means the student comes first for a reason.
"So many players think that when they come to school it's athletics first," Sayers said Thursday in a telephone interview. "It never has been in my time at the university. It's always been, you must be a student first or you can't play. You don't get your grades, you can't play."
Sayers would love Tent No. 2 because it's a tribute to KU defensive end Russell Brorsen. "Growing Smiles," a local business headed by children's dentist Kelli Henderson, rented the tent (4 to 5:30 p.m., the public's invited) to salute Brorsen for being an academic All-American.
Brorsen, who plans to attend dental school, shadowed Henderson for two months during the summer and left quite an impression.
"The kids just loved having him around," Henderson said. "He's a great guy, very modest, polite, talented and very, very bright."
In short, he's Sayers' kind of student-athlete.
Sayers has a busy weekend schedule, but he made sure to include time to watch his alma mater play a football game.
The 15th Annual Gale Sayers Golf Tournament at Alvamar, a benefit for the KU School of Education's multicultural scholars program, kicks off Sayers' weekend at 7 a.m. today. A luncheon follows the golf. Next up for Sayers is a three-hour appearance at KU Bookstores, where from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday he'll sign two books published by Triumph Books of Chicago: "Sayers: My Life and Times," written with well read, well liked Chicago Tribune columnist Fred Mitchell, and "What It Means to Be a Jayhawk," by former KU sports-information directors Jeff Bolig and Doug Vance, with a chapter featuring an interview with Sayers. All of his royalties and a portion of KU Bookstores' proceeds will be donated to the "Gale Sayers Center," a nonprofit organization that offers an accelerated after-school program for children of ages 8 to 12.
From the signing, Sayers will cut through a mass of slower bodies and find his way to a seat at Memorial Stadium.
Just because Sayers is pro-education doesn't mean he in any way is anti-football. When I asked Sayers about the football turnaround that "seems to be taking place," he was quick to interrupt.
"You said 'seems,'" he said. "They have made a turnaround. Will they always win 12? Probably not. Can they win nine? Yes, they can. Coach (Mark) Mangino has done an excellent job, and Bill Self has done an excellent job. There are too many universities around that have good football and good basketball. Why can't KU? We've always had good basketball. Now we have good basketball and football."
Fundraising for new buildings on the academic front hasn't kept pace with athletics, but Sayers isn't bothered by the new, luxurious football complex.
"All the schools we're competing against are getting that done," Sayers said.