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KU-phoria: Devoted Jayhawk dishes on favorite topics

In his new book, Rock Chalk raconteur Curtis Marsh shares tales from KU Info and more.

by Jennifer Jackson Sanner

Curtis Marsh readily admits he fell hard for KU and Lawrence.

As a student in the late 1980s and early ’90s, he soaked up Mount Oread traditions and, with his cadre of quirky kindred spirits, helped create a few.

In his career of 30-plus years on the Hill, Marsh, j’92, has become known as an ambassador of KU culture and lore. For 15 years, he directed KU Info, where he and his student proteges prided themselves on answering questions both essential and trivial. He then became the first director of the DeBruce Center, home of Dr. James Naismith’s original “Rules of Basket Ball.” Both roles were tailor-made for a raconteur who is always eager to spin tales of memorable Jayhawk exploits.

Now an associate director of development for KU Endowment, Marsh in October published some of his favorite stories in KU-phoria, a collection of personal anecdotes and explorations of notable people, places and episodes from Jayhawk history and traditions, especially basketball.

In 2020, as Marsh contemplated his passion project, he drew inspiration from reading Sports Stories, the final book published by legendary KU basketball coach Forrest C. “Phog” Allen, who shared seemingly random anecdotes that Marsh found compelling. “It almost felt like he was giving me permission to do the same,” Marsh writes in his KU-phoria introduction, explaining that he has assembled his stories in “Rock Chalkological” order.

Marsh recounts the history of campus landmarks—the original Snow Hall, Hoch Auditorium’s resurrection as Budig Hall, and favorite monuments and statues—along with lessons in leadership that he has shared with students through the years.

On the lighter side, he pays tribute to little-known, beloved characters such as The Candy Lady, and he traces the origins of fans’ distinctive rituals, including the complicated clap to “I’m a Jayhawk” and old-school student camping outside Allen Field House—two tales he has shared in recent years with readers of Kansas Alumni and the Alumni Association’s blog.

Sprinkled among the pages are brief interludes from KU Info, highlighting some of the more popular and obscure questions Marsh and his students fielded through the years.

The result is a charming homage, told with humor and affection, as if the author were chatting with the reader over coffee or a beer in a favorite Lawrence hangout. Like so many fellow Jayhawks, Curtis Marsh is still captivated by KU.

Jennifer Jackson Sanner, j’81, is editor of Kansas Alumni magazine.

Issue 4, 2023


Alumni authors, Books
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