KU's colors have been crimson and blue since the early 1890s. Originally, the Board of Regents had decided to adopt the University of Michigan's colors, maize and sky blue. Maize and blue were shown at oratorical meets, and they may have colored the Kansas crew in rowing competitions in the mid-1880s.
But in 1890 when football arrived at KU, a clamor arose for Harvard's crimson to honor Col. John J. McCook, a Harvard man who had given money for KU's athletic field. Faculty members who had graduated from Yale insisted that their academic lineage and Yale blue not be overlooked. In 1896, crimson and blue were adopted officially.