🏀 Former Kansas Forward Bill Lienhard Dies
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Former Kansas men’s basketball forward Bill Lienhard died Feb. 8, 2022, at his Lawrence home surrounded by his daughters – Julie Kivisto, Betsy Scott and Amy Lienhard Niedermohr. He was 92 years old. Lienhard was a starter on Kansas’ 1952 NCAA National Championship team.
“I got to know Bill Lienhard and many of his teammates from the 1952 team pretty well once we arrived in Lawrence,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said. “That entire group has been so supportive of everything we are trying to do. They are so proud of their school and Bill was no exception. He treated us like family and was classy in everything he did. He will be missed by many. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, whom I am sure are so proud of all he did as a husband, father, grandparent and great friend to so many.”
Born in Slaton, Texas, Lienhard grew up in Newton, Kansas, and was nicknamed the “Newton Railer” during his high school junior and senior seasons. He guided Newton High School to a 25-1 record in his senior campaign.
Lienhard was part of a stellar recruiting class, which included Clyde Lovellette, Bill Hougland, Bob Kenney, and John Keller. Under head coach Phog Allen, that class won not only the 1952 national title but it also won two Big Seven Conference regular-season titles in 1950 and 1952 and the Big Seven Holiday Tournament title during the 1952 season.
Under head coach Dr. F.C. “Phog” Allen, Lienhard played in 74 games in his three varsity seasons at KU from 1950 through 1952. He posted a career scoring average of 6.0 points per game. During Lienhard’s senior year, he was named a co-captain. In the 1952 NCAA title game win against St. John’s, Lienhard scored 12 points.
Following the 1952 season, Lienhard was one of seven Jayhawks chosen to represent the United States at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. Lienhard averaged four points per contest for the gold medal winning U.S. team.
Following the Olympics, Lienhard joined the Air Force and continued to play basketball for two years. Once his hoops career concluded, he became a banker in Kansas.
A member of the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame and K Club, Lienhard was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2013 and received the Hall’s “Pride of Kansas” Award in 2012. His 1952 Olympic gold medal resides in the Booth Family Hall of Athletics which is connected to Allen Fieldhouse.