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Staff

Matt Tait

Sports Editor | KUsports.com Editor | KU men's basketball beat writer

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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 both grew up in Kansas, my mom attended Lawrence High and my dad is a Shawnee Mission South graduate. Because of that 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 Jordan's picture. Other highlights from my time at the UDK include my work following the death of Wilt Chamberlain and a fun 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 10 athletes and Sam and I split up the names and did five feature 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 (now Jayhawk Slant) — 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 a student at LHS still are there today and it has been an absolute blast reconnecting with them.

In February of 2010, my job 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, the front end of the David Beaty era 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 December of 2018, I was promoted to Sports Editor of the Journal-World and replaced my longtime boss and friend, Tom Keegan, who left to become a columnist for the Boston Herald, closer to his hometown of Rochester, New York. Yet another new role brought with it exciting opportunities and challenges and fulfilled a destiny of sorts.

Back when I was in 8th grade at West Junior High, one of my teachers gave an assignment that asked us to write a paper about someone who had a job that we might someday want to do. I chose former Journal-World Sports Editor Chuck Woodling, Keegan's predecessor, and here I am today.

In my spare time, in addition to laughing and loving life with my wife, Allison, and stepdaughter, Kate, I enjoy traveling, hanging out at any beach or pool, playing basketball, golf, tennis, yard games, guitar and fantasy sports and cheering for any and all Colorado sports teams.

Recent Stories

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KU golfers facing unusual stay-or-go scenario in wake of COVID-19 crisis

With the NCAA recently granting additional eligibility to all spring sports athletes, KU golf seniors Andy Spencer and Drew Shepherd are facing the decision of moving on with their lives or returning to KU for a second shot at their senior seasons. By Matt Tait

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KU AD Jeff Long, head coach Brandon Schneider looking for more after 'small step forward' for KU women's basketball during 2019-20 season

The Kansas women’s basketball team during the 2019-20 season endured another rough run through its Big 12 Conference schedule. But, as a whole, KU Athletic Director Jeff Long called KU’s fifth season under head coach Brandon Schneider, “a small step forward.” By Matt Tait

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Kansas coach Bill Self delighted over Hall of Fame call for mentor Eddie Sutton

The wait is over for former Oklahoma State basketball coach Eddie Sutton, who on Saturday morning was announced as one of nine members of the 2020 class headed into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. By Matt Tait

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KU AD Jeff Long says cost-cutting measures not on the horizon for Kansas Athletics

Pay cuts taken by coaches in the Iowa State University athletic department this week will not be replicated at the University of Kansas for now, KU Athletic Director Jeff Long said. By Matt Tait

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Kansas junior Marcus Garrett's reputation as a lockdown defender dates back to elementary school

Known during his time at KU as a defensive stopper, Kansas junior Marcus Garrett began sharpening his defensive skills at an early age under the watchful eyes of his uncles back in Dallas. By Matt Tait

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KU junior Marcus Garrett named Naismith Defensive Player of the Year

Kansas junior Marcus Garrett on Wednesday backed up his status as the best defender in the Big 12 Conference by winning the national 2020 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award. By Matt Tait

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Kansas center Udoka Azubuike earns first team Senior CLASS All-American honor

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike has added another honor to his long list of accolades from the 2019-20 season. By Matt Tait

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KU signee Bryce Thompson still a McDonald's All American despite cancellation of annual all-star game

Future Jayhawk Bryce Thompson will go down in the KU record books and media guides as a McDonald’s All American — but unlike All-Americans in years past, he won’t get the chance to play in the annual high school showcase game. By Matt Tait

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KU's Udoka Azubuike named NABC Defensive Player of the Year

One week after watching teammate Marcus Garrett become a finalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award, KU senior Udoka Azubuike on Monday received national hardware for his work on the defensive end of the floor. By Matt Tait

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Production, planning for annual NCAA Tournament often a 9-month process

Shortly after the 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled, Bob Dekas, an 11-time Emmy winner who served as the lead producer for college basketball at CBS Sports for nearly three decades, gave the Journal-World a look at the work that goes into putting America’s favorite tournament on television. By Matt Tait

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