The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

May 30, 2014

FURFARI COLUMN: George King had great career as player, coach, A.D.

MORGANTOWN — It’s so good to know that longtime friend George King is among eight deserving contributors athletically in the 2014 class of the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame.

 I had the opportunity to cover this man’s basketball teams from 1960-61 through 1964-65. He had succeeded Fred Schaus after having served two years as WVU’s first full-time paid assistant basketball coach in school history.

Under King’s guidance, the Mountaineers won three Southern Conference championships and earned three trips to the NCAA Tournament.

The Charleston native, who had starred at Morris Harvey College (now University of Charleston) and later in the NBA, delivered a five-year record of 102-43 (.703 percent) for his career here.

That ranks third in WVU history percentage-wise and sixth in number of victories among all of the head men’s basketball coaches.

King not only coached All-American Rod Thorn but recruited Weirton’s Ron “Fritz” Williams. Thorn currently is president of basketball operations for the NBA.

Williams, who’s now deceased, was the first black man ever to play men’s basketball in the Southern Conference or at WVU.

King, who is a rare two-time West Virginia Amateur Athlete of the Year, already was a member of the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame selected by state sports writers.

Before joining Schaus at WVU, King had made his coaching debut at his alma mater Morris Harvey. His record there was 223-119.

King, who has a master’s degree from WVU, left after guiding the Mountaineers to the NCAA Tournament in 1965 for Purdue as head coach there. His record with the Boilermakers from 1966-1972 was 109-64 for seven seasons.

What’s more, King’s 1969 team was runner-up for the national championship. The Boilermakers were invited to compete in the 1971 National Invitational Tournament.

After retiring from coaching, King became Purdue’s athletic director. Wisely, he hired as men’s head coach Fred Schaus for a reunion.

Schaus had been head coach and later general manager of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. He also was highly successful as Purdue’s mentor.

Before returning to his alma mater as athletic director in 1981, Schaus had served a few years as associate A.D. under King at Purdue. In all, Schaus served nine years as A.D. here before retiring.

King served as president of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and as chairman of the NCAA Committee on Committees and the NCAA Postseason Bowl Committee (now known as Special Events Committee).

King served as Purdue’s athletic director until he retired in 1992.

Besides a bachelor’s degree from Morris Harvey in 1950 and master’s in 1957, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Charleston in 1983. He also was named as recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award.

Capping his meteoric rise as a Division I head coach, it took George King just 10 years for election into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame.

King, who set numerous scoring records at his alma mater, played a year in a National Industrial League with the Phillips Oilers. Then he turned professional. He spent five years with the Syracuse Nationals and played for the Cincinnati’s Royals for one year.

He helped Syracuse win the NBA title in 1955.

George and his wife Jeanne were married 51 years. He died at the age of 78 in October 2006. Mrs. King survives.

They had six children, 18 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

King will be inducted posthumously along with the other seven new members before WVU’s Sept. 20 football game against Oklahoma at the stadium.

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