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The Kansas Jayhawks are the teams of the athletic department at the University of Kansas, also known as KU. KU is one of three schools in the state of Kansas that participate in NCAA Division I. The Jayhawks are also a member of the Big 12 Conference. University of Kansas athletic teams have won eleven NCAA Division I championships: three in men's basketball, one in men's cross country, three in men's indoor track and field, three in men's outdoor track and field, and one in women's outdoor track and field. The origin of the term "Jayhawk" (short for "Jayhawker") is uncertain. The term was adopted as a nickname by a group of emigrants traveling to California in 1849. The origin of the term may go back as far as the Revolutionary War, when it was reportedly used to describe a group associated with American patriot John Jay.
The term became part of the lexicon of the Missouri-Kansas border in about 1858, during the Kansas territorial period. The term was used to describe militant bands nominally associated with the free-state cause. One early Kansas history contained this succinct characterization of the jayhawkers. Over time, proud of their state's contributions to the end of slavery and the preservation of the Union, Kansans embraced the "Jayhawker" term. The term came to be applied to people or items related to Kansas. When the University of Kansas fielded their first football team in 1890, like many Universities at that time, they had no official mascot. They used many different independent mascots, including a pig. Eventually, sometime during the 1890s, the team was referred to as the Jayhawkers by the student body. Over time, the name was gradually supplanted by its shorter variant, and KU’s sports teams are now almost exclusively known as the Jayhawks. The Jayhawk appears in several Kansas cheers, most notably, the "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk" chant in unison before and during games.