RCW: A look back 3.5
Rock Chalk Weekly takes a weekly look back into the archives of the Booth Hall of Athletics to deliver interesting artifacts and the fascinating stories behind them. Explore Kansas history and tradition inside this edition.
John McLendon with other Hall of Fame inductees. From left to right: Don Baker,
A.C. “Dutch” Lonborg, John McLendon, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Johnson, and Ted Owens.
Recently inducted for the second time into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, let’s take A Look Back at a great Kansan and Jayhawk, John McLendon. McLendon studied physical education and basketball at KU under Dr. James Naismith in the 1930s. He broke multiple barriers during his highly successful career, including but not limited to:
- First college coach ever to win three national titles in a row (1957-59 with Tennessee A&I State University in the NAIA)
- First African-American head coach in professional basketball (1962 with the Cleveland Pipers of the ABL)
- First African-American basketball coach at a predominantly white university (1966 at Cleveland State)
- First African-American to serve on the U.S. Olympic Committee (1966-76)
- First African-American on an Olympic Staff (1968 and 1972)
McLendon was first enshrined in the Naismith Hall of Fame under their “Contributor” category in 1979; his induction in 2016 is for his achievements as a coach.