Bob Frederick used to grow uncomfortable when friends, co-workers, dignitaries in the sports world and/or fans told him they planned to nominate him for induction in the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.
“Bob was such a humble person. He’d say, ‘Oh, no, please pick someone else,’’’ Margey Frederick, wife of the late KU basketball player, assistant coach and athletic director, said Sunday after Frederick’s induction ceremony in Wichita.
Frederick, who worked as KU’s athletic director for 14 years, was known for deflecting attention away from himself.
Margey and Frederick’s sister, Susan, accepted a plaque from host Gary Bender and spoke briefly to a Hall of Fame induction crowd that included former KU basketball coach Roy Williams and Williams’ wife, Wanda. Frederick hired Williams, who is now at the University of North Carolina, to replace Larry Brown at KU back in 1988.
“I said to everybody, ‘Thank you so much. Bob was our hero. I know he’s looking down humbly saying, ‘Margey take a seat,’’’ Margey said with a laugh.
In all seriousness ... “If Bob were here, I know how honored he’d be to be included with this group of inductees because he played for and worked for Dick Harp and was here when Raef (LaFrentz) played,” she added of the two other inductees with KU ties. “Also the inductees from K-State and many other places are such great people with great accomplishments and make up such an impressive group,” she added.
Frederick, Harp and LaFrentz were inducted in a 4 p.m. ceremony at the Wichita Boathouse with Kansas State All-America basketball player Kendra Wecker, K-State All-America football linebacker Mark Simoneau, former Emporia State track athlete John Camien, Wichita State All-America baseball pitcher Don Heinkel, Wichita State football coach Willie Jeffries and Pittsburg State football All-America Ronnie West.
“On behalf of our family, we are all extremely touched and pleased and happy for Bob. He remains our hero. We miss him every moment. He wanted to live a life that mattered and he did,” Margey said of Bob, who served as KU athletic director from 1987-2001. During his tenure, KU teams won 32 conference championships and produced 41 Academic All-Americans. He served on the NCAA basketball tournament’s selection committee from 1992-96 and was the chair in 1995 and ’96. The Senior Scholar Athlete Award at KU is named in his honor. In 2010, the NCAA created the NCAA Bob Frederick Sportsmanship Award, which honors an NCAA administrator who shows the highest respect for intercollegiate athletics.
He died in 2009 at the age of 69.
LaFrentz, who is KU’s third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder of all time, said he was “excited and humbled to be here today and in this year’s class.”
He thanked his wife, Joie, parents, Ron and Ellen, and others, too.
“I owe coach Williams a great deal. He came up to Monona (Iowa, LaFrentz’s hometown) and found me and gave me the opportunity to come to the University of Kansas and be part of that rich tradition. I was fortunate enough to win a lot of basketball games and play with some great players —Jacque Vaughn, Jerod Haase, Paul Pierce, Scot Pollard, all helped to form my basketball game and form me as a person. Great times at the University of Kansas,” said LaFrentz, who was 123-17 from 1994-98.
LaFrentz was a two-time consensus first team All-American, Big 12 Player of the Year and three-time all-conference player.
Harp compiled a 121-82 record as head basketball coach at KU from 1956-64. His Wilt Chamberlain-led 1957 team lost to North Carolina in triple overtime in the national championship game. The 1960 Jayhawks won the league title but lost to Cincinnati in the Midwest Regional. Harp was an assistant coach under Phog Allen from 1948-56 and a starting guard on KU’s 1940 team that placed second in the NCAA Tournament. He later served as an assistant coach under Dean Smith at North Carolina from 1986-89.
Harp died in 2000 at the age of 81.