News

The original “Ain’t No Seats” story revealed
This article was submitted by Mike Starkweather, c’67, one of the first residents to live in McCollum Hall after it opened.
“Ain’t No Seats.” Meaning, there "ain't no seats" left in Allen Fieldhouse, right?

Think again.

 

Ain’t No Seats originated during fall semester 2006 when an Oliver Hall freshman returned from class and recited a story to his dormmates.

 

Tyler Doehring, c’09, remembers the story: “Legend has it, Sherron Collins came into class a bit late and made his way to the back of the classroom. The professor encouraged him to take a seat in front. Without hesitation, Sherron responded, ‘ain’t no seats’ and a flock of white doves flew out of his bag.”

 

Instantly, Ain’t No Seats became a catchphrase among our group of friends.

 

“It was just a bunch of kids from Oliver Hall laughing over a story about a basketball player,” said Sarah Young, j’10.

 

So when it came time to put together our basketball camping group, the name was a unanimous decision: Ain’t No Seats. We created a Facebook group and made T-shirts for the campers. Sherron bought shirts for himself and some friends, which, at the time, made our group of doting freshmen feel completely legitimate.

 

“It was one of the first things our group of friends did together,” said Derek West, c’11.

And the name stuck, year after year

The group members naturally dispersed, but Ain’t No Seats stayed in the Fieldhouse. A few members stuck around long enough to pass on the name to other students, and after a couple years Ain’t No Seats was visible in the Fieldhouse—literally.

 

“One game, after we all graduated, there was a group with huge letters that read Ain’t No Seats in the student section of Allen Fieldhouse,” said Young.

 

“I figured when we all left campus that would be the end of it. I didn’t think much of it taking on a name of its own,” said Jenna Sauls, c’10. “I think I actually started yelling when I saw the sign in the student section. Half excitement, half ‘who in the world kept it alive after three or four years?’”

 

“After the sign appeared, announcers were making comments, people were posting on Twitter and Facebook saying it meant there were no seats left in the Fieldhouse,” said Young. “We were calling each other laughing and amused, saying ‘Did you hear that? It’s all wrong!’”

 

“When the phrase began to be misappropriated, we lost something nuanced for something on-the-nose,” said Doehring.

More than a sign

Versions of the saying’s origin came and went, and the tagline became well-known among KU fans.

 

“I think every KU fan could relate to Ain’t No Seats, because they assumed it had something to do with Allen Fieldhouse and the great atmosphere we have there,” said West. “When in reality, it had nothing to do with that.”

 

“We were literally the people there when Ain’t No Seats originally went down. We were there the first time it was ever used and now it’s been adopted by a new generation,” said Doehring.

 

He’s right: Ain’t No Seats has grown into blog titles, Twitter handles and memes. It even has its own hashtag.

 

“It’s more than just a sign or a phrase on a t-shirt for us,” said West. “It makes me nostalgic just thinking about it.”

 

“It’s been a while since I’ve seen Ain’t No Seats in the student section. I think it’s great if the group is still alive. It’s fun to tell the original story, so I hope they’re continuing to set the record straight,” said Sauls.

 

— Kara Schwerdt, j’10, was a member of the original Ain’t No Seats camping group

 

Top photo: Jeff Jacobsen, Kansas Athletics

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