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Wednesday, June 9, 2021

KU basketball’s Late Night in the Phog set for Oct. 1 at Allen Fieldhouse

Mitch Lightfoot is introduced during Late Night in the Phog on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Mitch Lightfoot is introduced during Late Night in the Phog on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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An in-person version of Late Night in the Phog is returning to KU’s campus this fall, with the unofficial tipoff to the 2021-22 basketball season set for Oct. 1 at Allen Fieldhouse.

On Tuesday, when the Kansas men’s basketball program released the dates and opponents on its nonconference schedule for the 2021-22 season, KU coach Bill Self noted in a video narration for social media that no one in the program ever again would take a “packed Allen Fieldhouse” for granted.

One day later, KU revealed the date of the next opportunity for people to see the Jayhawks back that up at the 37th annual Late Night in the Phog event.

“Jayhawk fans, this season is for you,” Self said in the video. “For the relentless support you’ve shown us throughout all the years and the support we know you will continue to show. Because, after all, you are the heart and soul of Allen Fieldhouse.”

Last year’s Late Night, the 36th version since its debut in 1985, was done virtually, with skits and scrimmages streamed online for fans to watch from home.

“One thing about last year’s pandemic was it took away from fans being able to attend events but it also took away some fun opportunities for us too,” Self said in a release announcing this year’s date. “We probably tip off the season as well as an-ybody in America with Late Night in the Phog, and we are glad it will be back. It will be the first chance for our fans to see the large number of newcomers that we feel is a terrific recruiting class.”

What began with 6,000 fans on a Tuesday in October in 1985 as “Late Night with Larry Brown,” has only grown in the nearly 40 years since, with former KU coach Roy Williams and Self bringing more and more excitement and anticipation to the event each year.

According to KU’s release, Late Night in the Phog has unfold-ed in front of capacity crowds since 1991.

Initially set for midnight on the night before the first day of practices allowed by the NCAA, the event was moved to an earlier start time beginning in 2005 in order to create a more fan-friendly experience for fans of all ages.

No start time was announced on Wednesday, but the event, in recent years, has turned into an all-day affair, with activities taking place outside of Allen Fieldhouse throughout the day and doors opening sometime in the mid-afternoon or early evening.

In recent years, KU’s signature season-opening event has at-tracted bigger and bigger musical acts, with hip hop artists and rap stars Tech N9ne, 2Chainz, Lil Yachty and Snoop Dogg performing as the non-basketball headliners in recent years.

Starting with the 1988-89, KU’s women’s basketball team has shared top billing with the men’s program, with the women’s team participating in skits and scrimmages of their own, as well.

“We could not be more excited for the return of Late Night in the Phog,” KU women’s basketball coach Brandon Schneider said in the release. “This annual kickoff for the basketball sea-son is something our players greatly look forward to participat-ing in. We can’t wait to see Allen Fieldhouse back to full ca-pacity.”

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