RCW: A Look Back 4.17


This week, let’s take A Look Back at the roots of the Williams Education Fund and its earliest namesake, Dr. John H. Outland.
Outland, the originator and the namesake of the Outland Trophy, annually awarded to the nation’s best interior lineman, was a student at the University of Kansas and a member of the football team in the mid-1890s. After just one season with the Jayhawks, he transferred schools. He went on to play football and earn a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as earn consensus All-America honors twice at two different positions.
Outland returned to KU as head coach of the football team for the 1901 season, before focusing on his medical career. He continued to support athletics at Kansas and played a large role in the creation of the Kansas Relays, which he modeled after the Penn Relays.
Outland practiced medicine in the Kansas City area until his retirement, and also was the first Kansas City area doctor to fly his own plane to rural areas and distant towns to administer care. He served on the athletic board for KU for many years, and also worked as a college football referee for some time. He died in March 1947 at his retirement home in California, just months after the inaugural Outland Trophy was awarded to George Connor of Notre Dame on December 7, 1946.
The Williams brothers – Odd, Dick and Skipper – first formalized an athletics scholarship fund in 1949, but it was nameless until Chancellor Franklin Murphy suggested naming it after Outland in the 1950s; the fund retained the Outland Fund name until 1974, when it was renamed the Williams Educational Fund in honor of the families’ efforts.

For more information on the Williams Education Fund, including tickets, parking, premium seating, facility projects and special events, visit WilliamsFund.com.