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Originally published August 31, 2009 at 04:41p.m., updated September 1, 2009 at 12:00a.m.

KU brings Sayers back to his alma mater

Famed Kansas University running back Gale Sayers, center, flashes a smile as he is greeted by longtime broadcaster Max Falkenstien in a lounge at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., in this file photo. Sayers has been hired by the KU athletics department to serve as Director of Fundraising for Special Projects.

Famed Kansas University running back Gale Sayers, center, flashes a smile as he is greeted by longtime broadcaster Max Falkenstien in a lounge at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., in this file photo. Sayers has been hired by the KU athletics department to serve as Director of Fundraising for Special Projects.

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Former Kansas University football standout Gale Sayers has been named KU’s director of fundraising for special projects.

Sayers, a two-time All-America running back selection at KU in 1963 and ’64, who went on to work as a Jayhawk assistant athletic director in the 1970s, will begin his new job in October.

“Lew (Perkins, KU athletic director) and I started talking about my coming back to the University of Kansas about six months ago,” Sayers said Monday.

“He told me that he wanted to build Kansas athletics into a program that would be competing for national championships in every sport. I believe that with the team Lew has put together, and with the support of the KU alumni, we can make this a reality. I am happy to be back at the University of Kansas and I am eager to get started.”

Sayers, who lives in Wakarusa, Ind., with wife, Ardie, is currently working on opening the Gale Sayers Center, an after-school program for 8-to-12-year-olds, which will provide extensive computer and public-speaking programs.

“I am thrilled and honored to welcome Gale back to the Kansas athletics administration,” KU athletic director Perkins said. “There is no one better suited to take on this role. Gale obviously distinguished himself on the gridiron as both a collegian and a professional, but the example he also set in his career after football serves as a model to our student-athletes and to the general student body. Our entire university will benefit from Gale’s return. We look forward to his being an integral part of our team here at Kansas.”

Sayers rushed for 2,675 yards and produced 3,917 all-purpose yards during his Jayhawk career. He led KU in rushing, touchdowns and kickoff returns in each of his three years in the lineup, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

Sayers then put up NFL Hall-of-Fame numbers with the Chicago Bears, who made him their No. 1 pick in the 1965 NFL Draft. He scored a rookie-record 22 touchdowns, just one of seven records he either tied or broke in his career. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

After his NFL career was cut short by injury, he embarked on a career in college athletics administration. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at KU and served at KU as assistant athletics director. In 1976 he was selected athletics director at Southern Illinois University, becoming the first African-American A.D. in Division I.

In June Sayers was inducted into the John McLendon Minority Athletics Administrators Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame recognizes the dedication of longtime minority athletics administrators in working toward the advancement of minorities in the field of athletics administration, while achieving the highest level of excellence in their own career.

Comments

Carter Patterson 5 years, 4 months ago

What a phenomenal ambassador for KU both athletically and academically.

jayhawk02 5 years, 4 months ago

Great hire. I'm sure he will do a phenomenal job fundraising for the university. RCJH.

Dyrk Dugan 5 years, 4 months ago

no one's been better at purely running the football than Gale Sayers. welcome back to KU Gale...i'm sure you'll do great.

63Jayhawk 5 years, 4 months ago

Outstanding, what a great addition to the athletics staff.

chicagoeddie 5 years, 4 months ago

He has been an awesome supporter of the alumni in chicago!! ive had the honor of watching some ku football games with him at Juniors, which is one of the chicago watch sites! He will be a great addition and is well connected! =)

Rock Chalk!

Joel Hood 5 years, 4 months ago

WOW - Gale has done so much good not only for KU athletics, but the KU School of Education. Welcome home Kansas Comet!

Joe Ross 5 years, 4 months ago

Gayle Sayers "AND" Danny Manning on campus at the SAME TIME??? Is this heaven?

Joseph Kuebel 5 years, 4 months ago

The Kansas Comet coming home for good! Being a Chicago-KU kid, and growing up a Bears fan I especially love this move.

trmatlock 5 years, 4 months ago

Words don't do him justice as a player. His character is even better. Definitely an assett to the university.

Ryan Mullen 5 years, 4 months ago

This is good. He was my next door neighbor for many years the man throws wild parties.

ProudKansan 5 years, 4 months ago

Awesome move. Class act. I can't imagine the impact he could have on recruiting if used properly.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 4 months ago

John Hadl does something like that also - Yes?

About 6 months ago, Gale was at a BB game where he lobbied for increased funding for FB (and other sports?). I wonder if Lew approached him and said, "Put your time where your mouth is", or if that was Gale initiating some free promoting in advance. Either way, it sounds good to me.

yovoy 5 years, 4 months ago

manning and sayers! forget ambassadors, that's great for getting money, skills, etc into the pipeline. if the kids in the pipeline have access to these guys, guys that've "been there", they're every bit as important as mentors.

i was wondering when this was going to happen.

is he being "groomed" perhaps? he's got the experience, the knowledge, the name, and the swagger.

waywardJay 5 years, 3 months ago

No Jross, It's Lawrence.

Thanks Lew.... smart smart move to bring back a legend.

Welcome back Gale

MinnesotaJay 5 years, 3 months ago

This is a great move for all involved. Welcome back, Gale.

"Sayers said in a release... 'He told me that he wanted to build Kansas Athletics into a program that would be competing for national championships in every sport. I believe that with the team Lew has put together, and with the support of the KU alumni, we can make this a reality."

Sounds like a plan!!!

Kman_blue 5 years, 3 months ago

This is great news! A true stand-up kind of guy who happens to be a legend to represent the University in an official position is nothing but good. He's been an unofficial great representative for KU for a long time already.

Minor quibble with the story though. I don't know why, but the late great John McLendon is also a KU alumni and a home grown Kansan(from Hiawatha) and it's NEVER mentioned whenever he or his foundation are brought up. I know that he wasn't allowed to fully participate in the University(kept off the bball team because of racism of the time) and that's a shame, but he was another outstanding stand-up kind of guy who all of us as KU fans/students/alumni should be proud of and it should be noted!

OCJHAWK 5 years, 3 months ago

Was fortunate enough to see him speak prior to the Orange Bowl and was impreseed with his class. I am a little young to remember him on the field, but my dad always said he was the best ever.

Good to have a program that High profile alums are willing to put their name with.

Go KU

blackhawkjayhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

Lew has seen the power of Hadl as a fundraiser. Alumni connect with their heroes. Hadl, Manning, Sayers - these are the guys who got it done and they are the guys who can get it done now.

Next guy I'd like to see in the fold: Mr. Jacque Vaughn.

ranadist 5 years, 3 months ago

The Phantom of the Kaw has returned. Welcome back Gale. You'll do a great job.

jayhawk2062 5 years, 3 months ago

Tremendous person. A great Jayhawk. Gale Sayers belongs here and Lew recognizes that. Great news just in time for football this week!

gardenjay 5 years, 3 months ago

Competing for national championships in every sport? Then you need a new memorial stadium. You cannot compete for a national championship in football unless your basketball fan base feels more comfortable 'inside' memorial stadium. You must develop football fans out of basketball fans, since there is a limited pool of fans in general. To really do this, you have to bring some similarities to the facilities - and I think it can be done while preserving the view of the hill and vice-versa.

The legions of fair-weather basketball fans will show as the team shows success. But they will dump on football whenever there is a down-tic, unless this is really thought out.

Here's to hoping there is a plan for Sayers to accomplish well thought-out ideas.

Welcome to KU, Mr. Sayers! I have heard of you through the years even though you played before I was born - what an honor.

Scott MacWilliams 5 years, 3 months ago

Wow, this is fabulous news!! Gale Sayers is the definition of legend, and has always been someone I hoped would be back at KU someday. Way to go, Lew, and welcome back Mr. Sayers. Jayhawk Nation is ecstatic!!

rrh 4 years, 2 months ago

Let's hope that Gale Sayers is consulted about replacing Lew Perkins. Maybe he should take the job, himself !!

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