The year was 1978 and on a warm day in late June, I entered the world at the base of the Flatirons in beautiful Boulder, Colorado.
Because I am a native of Colorado (yes, I used to have the sticker on my car) I instantly was granted membership into the fandom of any and all Colorado sports teams. Throughout the years, I've even been known to embellish the circumstances surrounding my birth to tell the tale that the first thing I remember seeing was glorious Folsom Field, home of the Colorado Buffaloes. Not true. Sue me.
My parents are both natives of Kansas, my mom attended Lawrence High and my dad is a Shawnee Mission South graduate. Because of that, and their love for KU, I moved to Lawrence when I was 10, a few months after Danny and the Miracles made their run to the title (sweet timing, right) and have been here ever since.
I continue to call Colorado home and have made many attempts at returning there after moving to Lawrence. I intended to return for high school.... didn't happen. I was certain that I would attend Colorado State University for college.... that didn't happen either, mostly because of the reputation of KU's Journalism School and my in-state status. After that, though, I was sure I would move back to Colorado for my first job. As you surely know by now, that didn't happen either. I used to wonder why I never made it back there, but then it hit me: Lawrence must be a pretty great place and I must like it here. Both are true.
During my time in Lawrence, I attended Pinckney Elementary School for two years, West Junior High for three and graduated from Lawrence High in 1996. After that I attended the University of Kansas and graduated in 2000 with a degree in Journalism.
During my college days, I covered the KU baseball and basketball teams for the University Daily Kansan. While I enjoyed covering baseball and learned a lot while doing it, basketball was the beat everybody wanted and I still remember my first hoops story for the UDK: Michael Jordan retires. There was something pretty cool about seeing my byline next to a mug shot of Jordan. Other highlights from my time at the UDK include my work following the death of Wilt Chamberlain and a great series that my former roommate (Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star) and I did on the top 10 KU athletes of the century around the Y2K craze. The KU athletic department voted on the top 10 and Sam and I split up the names and did five stories apiece. Mine: Wilt, Ray Evans, Al Oerter, Jim Ryun and Ralph Miller. What a great time.
In addition to working for the UDK, I was the publisher of a KU sports web site run by Rivals.com — JayhawkTalk.com — which I continued to operate for a little more than a year after graduation.
I joined the World Company in June of 2001, when I was hired to become the sports editor of the Bonner Springs Chieftain and Basehor Sentinel weekly newspapers. In 2004, my position grew to include becoming the sports editor of the Shawnee Dispatch, another weekly, which I helped start from the ground up. In July of 2007 I got the call to the big leagues when I was named High School Sports Editor at the Journal-World.
It was an awesome feeling covering high school sports in the town I grew up in. Many of the coaches who were around when I was at LHS still are there today and it has been an absolute blast reconnecting with them.
In February of 2010, my job title changed again when I was promoted into the role of KU football beat writer. After helping out with our football coverage during Mark Mangino's final couple of seasons, I covered the entire Turner Gill and Charlie Weis eras and lived to tell about it. I never played football — unless you count games in the snow or flag football with friends — but made it my daily goal to dig as deep as I could into the KU program to help explain how and why things happen while also analyzing the players, coaches and trends surrounding the Kansas football team in a basketball-crazed town.
In October of 2013, I was promoted to KUsports.com Editor and began working more closely with all aspects of our coverage of KU athletics while also managing writers, working with web developers, overseeing and making decisions about our coverage and online initiatives, trouble-shooting and interacting even more with our readers.
During the summer of 2016, the Journal-World and KUsports.com were sold by the World Company to Ogden Newspapers and as a part of that transition I became the KU basketball beat writer while also retaining my title as KUsports.com Editor.
In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, basketball, golf, tennis, yard games, playing guitar, fantasy sports and cheering for any and all Colorado teams.
While Wednesday’s news conference introducing KU Athletic Director Jeff Long offered insight into where he came from, where he’s going and how he plans to get there, it also provided a more complete look at the make-up of KU chancellor Douglas Girod, the man who hired Long. By Matt Tait
The historic account of his time at the University of Kansas forever will show that Jeff Long’s first comments as the KU athletic director were about basketball. But it was not praise for Kansas coach Bill Self, the 14 consecutive Big 12 titles or Long’s future plans or promises for the program that crossed his lips. Instead, the 58-year-old Long on Wednesday made it clear to Self that while he hopes to bring a lot to the KU athletic department athletic prowess is not on the list. By Matt Tait
Shortly after shaking hands with his new boss for the first time and watching a 45-minute news conference introducing Jeff Long as KU’s 11th athletic director, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self on Wednesday found himself in a hallway of the Lied Center answering questions about sophomore forward Silvio De Sousa. By Matt Tait
Four days after a report surfaced stating that it had obtained a federal subpoena from the University of Maryland regarding the recruitment of Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa, Yahoo Sports on Tuesday released another report stating that its request for similar subpoenas from KU had been “tacitly acknowledged.” By Matt Tait
It’s only been a month, and he clearly still has a lot to learn about playing point guard at Kansas, in the Big 12 and for KU coach Bill Self. But the early feedback from summer pick-up games and team scrimmages thus far have pinpointed one area in which KU newcomer Devon Dotson already is well ahead of the curve for a true freshman — speed. By Matt Tait
The news had been out only a couple of hours when the first text messages began flooding his phone. Late Thursday afternoon, Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, who once hired newly named Kansas AD Jeff Long for a senior associate role at OU in 2001, had started to hear from his friends in Kansas. By Matt Tait
Despite continued confidence from both him and Kansas coach Bill Self about his status for the 2018-19 college basketball season, KU sophomore Silvio De Sousa was back in the news again Friday.
The punchy, popular and somewhat impatient question floating around following Thursday’s announcement of the hiring of Jeff Long as the new athletic director at the University of Kansas was short and sweet. Was this a good hire? By Matt Tait
If Kansas center Udoka Azubuike is going to follow up his fabulous, 120-slam, sophomore dunk-fest by reaching triple digits in dunks again during the 2018-19 season, he’s going to have to make sure he’s ready to catch the ball from at least one different position — the 4. By Matt Tait
This past weekend might have been all about former college basketball players learning their fate and preparing to make the jump to the NBA, following last Thursday’s NBA Draft in Brooklyn, N.Y. But there also was a significant piece of news regarding potential future Jayhawks that surfaced, as well. By Matt Tait