University of Kansas

Attempt to get specialized KU license plates in Missouri is not without its opponents

There’s an old saying in college sports: If one school refuses to play you, then you can be darn sure you don’t let that school have specialized license plates in your state.

Wait, what?

Well, maybe it’s not an old saying. But according to two Missouri state senators, it’s a philosophy that now exists. So when word leaked out late last week that the University of Kansas Alumni Association was attempting to get specialized KU plates approved by lawmakers in Missouri, Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, and Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, sprang into action.

Stouffer and Schaefer, both graduates of Mizzou, announced that they would file a petition to stop the approval of a KU license plate.

“With the long-standing rivalry between Mizzou and KU, I find it appalling that the creation of this license plate would be conceived in the Show-Me State,” Sen. Stouffer said.

Border (Cold) War meet the Battle of License Plate Hill.

But first, how about some background: According to Danny Lewis, director of alumni programs for the KU Alumni Association, the idea of a KU license plate in Missouri is hardly new.

In internet-speak, perhaps they’d call it trolling — a word or action to get a rise out of your audience, because well, you can.

But Lewis said the reasons were innocent and simple. Kansas has an estimated 30,000 alumni living in Missouri — and that’s probably on the low end, Lewis says. In addition, KU already has specialty plates available in Maryland and Texas.

Still, this isn’t the first time the alumni association has attempted to put KU plates in what would have likely been unwelcome territory. KU alumni in North Carolina inquired about a Jayhawk plate in the Tar Heel State, but plans fell apart when they learned that North Carolina requires a presale of 1,300 plates.

“Our group in North Carolina wanted to annoy the Duke and North Carolina grads by getting KU license plates out there,” Lewis said, adding, “We approach everything state by state.”

Last week, Lewis was confident that the alumni association was close to its goal. After a frustrating search, they’d been able to find a state legislator to co-sign their application for the plates — Rep. Charlie Denison, R-Springfield.

Denison, who had a neighbor that went to KU, had no allegiance to either KU or MU. But perhaps the alumni association was a little naïve to the emotions it was stoking. According to Denison, there’s a two-year waiting period on voting on specialty plates. And the KU plates, according to Denison, won’t be up for a vote until next year.

In addition, the bill will have to pass through the proper channels in both the House and Senate before being signed by Governor Jay Nixon, another dedicated Mizzou fan.

“I want to make sure our license plates reflect our state,” Schaefer said, “and highlight the things that make us Missouri.”

One thing is for certain: The Border War appears plenty healthy. Denison, who went to college in Texas, had a full voicemail last Friday — and at least one particularly ugly message.

“I can’t believe,” Denison said, “there is so much talking over a bill that can’t even be voted on until next year.”