Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, KU: Fascinating Fact Of the Day

Jennifer TaglioneCorrespondent IJanuary 7, 2009

I’ve been a fan of Kansas basketball for as long as I can remember (well, okay since high school anyway). And I’ve heard the chant for years. I used to think it was “Rock, Jock, Jayhawk” because, what the hell is “Rock Chalk” supposed to mean? Well today I found out.

It’s actually a really fascinating story.

Oh. Whoops. You may have no idea what I’m talking about. “Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk KU” is actually the world famous chant heard at college games at Kansas University. It is deafening

Here it is clear and defined: Rock Chalk Jayhawk

And here is what I discovered about it:

  • It was invented in 1886 by a chemistry teacher named E.H.S. Bailey for the science club.
  • It was originally “Rah, Rah Jayhawk, KU”
  • It was replaced with “Rock Chalk” because….drumroll….chalk rock is the name of the limestone all around the KU campus! (Yeah, I know, it’s weird. Rock Jock makes much more sense. But remember this was for a science club at the time)
  • Teddy Roosevelt said it was the best college chant he had ever heard (Question is did he think it was Rock Jock or Rock Chalk? And was he a science club geek that actually knew what that meant?)
  • In the 1920 Olympics, the King of Belgium asked for a typical American college yell and KU’s Rock Chalk was selected.
  • Rumor has it that the chant was actually used during fighting in Philippines in 1899, in the Boxer Rebellion in China, and in World War II. Wonder if the Jayhawk mascot flew oversees for that….

I still think Rock Jock makes more sense!

*all information discovered on the KU: Traditions of the University website.

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