Kansas Football Legend George Mrkonic Passes Away

May 31, 2011

LAWRENCE, Kan. –

Former Kansas football All-American George Mrkonic died last week after a lengthy battle with cancer. Mrkonic, who played at KU from 1950-52, was 81.

Mrkonic anchored one of the great lines to play at Kansas in the early 1950’s. He was named All-Big Seven in 1950 and 1951, playing both offensive guard and defensive tackle. He became the third All-America selection in Jayhawk football history in 1951, a season in which he also handled punting duties, helping KU to an 8-2 record and a third-place finish in the conference.

The native of McKeesport, Pa., Mrkonic helped the Jayhawks to a 21-9 record in his three-year career. He was selected to play in the East-West Shrine Game following the 1952 season and was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round of the NFL Draft the following year.

He played one season with the Eagles and also one season in the Canadian Football League before retiring from professional football in 1955.

Mrkonic later became a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserves and then worked for Phillips Petrolium Company.

Mrkonic and his wife Ruth were KU football season ticket holders. Mrkonic’s name graces the large meeting room in the football offices next to the stadium, while he is also on the Jayhawk Ring of Honor.

While at Kansas, Mrkonic also lettered in baseball in 1951 and was a member of the ROTC and Phi Delta Theta fraternity.

“I’d like to offer my condolences to the family of the late George Mrkonic,” Kansas head football coach Turner Gill said. “George was a great Jayhawk throughout his life, first as a player and then as a alum. He continued to support the University of Kansas even late in life, while battling his illness. He will be greatly missed by the entire Jayhawk family.”

Mrkonic is survived by his wife, Ruth, and children George, Jr., Matt and Kate Mrkonic Walsh. Ruth and Matt were also University of Kansas graduates.