Bums, Bells & Branding – 10 UMKC Fast Facts

Later this week, DU travels to Kansas City to face the UMKC Roos in men’s and women’s basketball. Here are a few facts about the Summit League’s newest member:

  • UMKC was originally a private university titled the University of Kansas City (UKC) in 1933.
  • In 1963, after three decades as a private institution, the financial instability of UKC led it to become a part of the University of Missouri system with the flagship university located in Columbia, Missouri.
  • In 1968, Disney Studios drew Denver Boone (formerly Pioneer Pete) for the University of Denver. Thirty-two years earlier in 1936, former Kansas City resident, Walt Disney penned the UMKC mascot, Kasey Kangaroo. And why a Kangaroo? The mascot was created following the acquisition of two baby kangaroos by the Kansas City Zoo. The team nickname is the Roos.

Image result for Kasey Kangaroo Disney

  • In 1986, the University of Missouri Board of Curators approved UMKC’s transition from the NAIA to the NCAA Division I. Denver made a similar jump in 1999 returning to NCAA Division I competition.
Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, Mo. (Photo: Business Wire)
UMKC is located five minutes south of the Country Club Plaza Shopping Center, south of downtown Kansas City.


  • An old UMKC tradition was called Hobo Day, later renamed Bum Day when students dressed like vagrants at the end of the spring semester. In 1982, the Student Life Office put a stop to Bum Friday and replaced it with “Roo Fest”, which lacked many of the activities and traditions of Bum Friday and its predecessor, Hobo Day.
  • UMKC has a Carillion similar to DU. The Van Bergen 49-bell Carillion. The Bells were dedicated in May 1989. The Carillon is located in the tower of the Swinney Recreation Center which houses UMKC’s indoor athletic teams.
  • Like the University of Nebraska Omaha and the University of Denver, UMKC logos and branding now focus on their city name. The school long branded itself for athletic purposes as “UMKC” but in June 2019, shortly before it announced its return to the Summit League, they unveiled a new logo and branding strategy emphasizing “Kansas City” and as the Kansas City Roos.
  • UMKC has never made the NCAA playoffs in hoops – just like the University of Denver. And, despite their relative proximity to each other, the two men’s basketball programs have never met before. DU did play Kansas City Life during the 1934-35 season. While UMKC have no athletic championships, in 2017 UMKC’s dance team won the National Dance Alliance (NDA) Jazz Division I National Championship.
  • UMKC was a member of the Summit League but they departed for the WAC 7 years ago – the same season DU joined the Summit League. The idea was that Kansas City could become more competitive in the WAC, especially in basketball. The move added additional cost to an already cash-strapped athletic program starved for success but they never could win the WAC – or even come close. While UMKC is Denver’s closest league rival, UMKC’s closest league rival will be Omaha.
  • The school colors are blue and gold, the same as South Dakota State University in the Summit League.

2 thoughts on “Bums, Bells & Branding – 10 UMKC Fast Facts”

Leave a Reply