Before every Kansas men's basketball game, broadcaster Brian Hanni takes a symbolic lap around the concourse of Allen Fieldhouse, saying a prayer as he goes.
“Usually 30 minutes before I take the air, I walk that circle,” Hanni said. “It helps me realize how lucky we are to celebrate such an incredible tradition like Kansas basketball.”
Hanni has spent the past three seasons as the distinguished “voice of the Jayhawks,” broadcasting everything from men's basketball to football to baseball. A Topeka native, Hanni graduated from the University in 2002 with a degree in broadcast management with a focus in sports broadcasting and media sales.
While in school, Hanni unlocked his passion for broadcasting when he enrolled in a play-by-play announcing course taught by legendary sportscaster Tom Hedrick, the former voice of the Jayhawks.
“The only A he’d ever given on record was to Kevin Harlan, and he gave me an A-minus,” Hanni said. “I thought ‘Maybe, just maybe if things break right, 20 years from now, I might have a chance to be the voice of the Jayhawks.’”
Much of Hanni’s preparation for each basketball game is completed the day before gameday. Hanni will often spend four to five hours putting together spot charts for opposing teams, which include relevant facts, statistics and other “nuggets,” as he fondly refers to them.
Despite calling over 100 Kansas men's basketball games, there’s one all-time moment in particular that sticks out to Hanni: Kansas’ overtime victory over Duke to advance to the 2018 Final Four.
“Even though our dreams got dashed pretty quickly in San Antonio, just the road to getting there was something I’ll savor for the rest of my life,” Hanni said.
The interpersonal relationships Hanni has built during his time in Lawrence are what he values the most about his position. While he does enjoy working the occasional nationally-televised college football bowl game, Hanni says there’s nothing quite like getting to know people beyond the box score.
“I’m a storyteller, and I love getting to know student-athletes on a personal level,” Hanni said. “Over the course of 20-30 years, you develop lifelong relationships.”
Hanni also uses his platform to make a positive impact on the Lawrence community. In 2009, Hanni founded the annual Rock Chalk Roundball Classic celebrity charity game, which benefits children battling pediatric cancer.
Along with that, Hanni will be receiving the 2019 Hod Humiston Award for sports broadcasting on May 7, which honors those who have made significant contributions to the field of sports broadcasting as well as work in the community. He is also a two-time recipient of the Oscar Stauffer Award for sportscasting from the KSHSAA.
While he appreciates all of his personal accolades, Hanni credits the flagship Jayhawk brand as a substantial factor in his success.
“The reach of the Jayhawk brand stretches far beyond the walls of the sunflower state,” Hanni said. “It’s a global thing, and through it, I’ve been given a chance to do a lot for various causes.”
And that helps to keep things in perspective for Hanni, no matter where he's calling a game.
“Every single venue, whether it’s the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Allen Fieldhouse, or Rupp Arena, I make that trek and lift those prayers up each and every time," Hanni said.