Archive for Tuesday, August 31, 1993


August 31, 1993


Bob Frederick's father, Charles, was executive vice-president of the National Retail Farm Equipment Assn. He was a peripatetic flesh-presser often sought as a public speaker.

Frederick's job today as Kansas athletic director isn't that much different than his father's, even if an AD isn't what he always wanted to be.

"I wanted to coach high school basketball and teach algebra," Frederick said.

Frederick did coach basketball at a handful of high schools, including Lawrence High, but he never taught algebra. He taught chemistry instead. Why? Because a KU professor named Raymond Brewster had piqued his interest.

"Plus," Frederick confessed, "I didn't like calculus."

Frederick's admiration for a man named Denver Miller steered him down the coaching path. Miller was Frederick's high school basketball coach in suburban St. Louis.

"HE WAS coach at Kirkwood High from 43 years," Frederick said. "He got the job at 22 and coached there until he was 65. It was the only job he ever had."

Frederick's first coaching job required no teaching, just studying. He spent two years as a graduate assistant at Kansas working on a masters in education.

Then he landed his first high school job as an assistant coach -- and chemistry teacher, of course -- at Rich Central High in suburban Chicago.

It was either take that job or, in effect, starve.

"My first year as a graduate assistant I made $100 a month. The second year I made $200 a month," Frederick recalled. "My parents thought it was about time I got a real job."

A couple of years later, he was back in Kansas, this time out west in Russell, with his first head coaching job. Then he took another step up the ladder, accepting the job at Coffeyville Community College.

ALL THIS TIME, Frederick had been working each summer as a counselor in Ted Owens' summer camp.

Was it possible for Frederick to become a full-time full-fledged assistant coach at his alma mater? He sought advice from Sam Miranda, then a member of Owens' staff.

"Sam told me just to work my tail off all the time. He said to make it tough for Ted not to notice me. So that's what I did."

Owens noticed. When Gale Catlett, now head coach at West Virginia, departed after the Jayhawks went to the NCAA Final Four in 1971, Owens hired Frederick as his replacement.

So he was back. He'd come full circle in less than a decade. And yet he was soon gone again. A year later, he took a higher-paying job as an aide at Brigham Young.

In the meantime, Frederick had met a KU graduate student named Margey Wallett. They were married in '72.

"When we drove into Provo, Margey cried because we didn't know anyone there," Frederick recalled. "When we left three years later she cried because we were losing so many friends."

THIS TIME Frederick was off to Stanford where he lasted a couple of years before the entire staff was fired. Instead of looking for another college job, Frederick returned to Lawrence in 1977 to resume doing what he had set out to do all along.

He coached boys basketball and taught chemistry at Lawrence High.

Four years later, at the urging of KU chancellor Gene Budig, Frederick began working seriously toward a doctorate in educational administration. At about the same time, he took a higher-paying job as head of the KU athletic department's Williams Fund.

In 1984 he earned his PhD. In 1985 he became athletic director at Illinois State because, he said, "I didn't think I had a chance to get the Kansas AD job unless I went someplace else and proved myself."

Two years later, Frederick came back to Lawrence again, replacing Monte Johnson as the No. 1 man in the Kansas athletic department.

"I always saw him as one with enormous potential," chancellor Budig said, "and I was right."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.