Feb. 11, 2010
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -
Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics and the Boilermaker men's basketball program lost one of its luminaries on Wednesday with the passing of former head coach Fred Schaus.
"Fred was one of the pillars of the proud Purdue basketball tradition," Purdue Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Morgan Burke said. "Kate and I extend our sympathy to his wife, Barbara, and his wonderful family."
With teams known for their fastbreak style and stingy defense, Schaus compiled a 104-60 (.634) record at Purdue from 1972-78, while guiding the Boilermakers into three postseason tournaments, including the 1974 NIT title and a 1977 NCAA Tournament berth.
Schaus' 104 wins currently rank fifth on Purdue's career chart, while his average of 17.3 wins per season still ranks fourth. During his tenure in West Lafayette, Schaus helped mold Boilermaker stars John Garrett and Frank Kendrick into All-Americans and saw six of his players selected in the NBA Draft.
"Fred Schaus was a visionary in the game of basketball," Purdue head men's basketball coach Matt Painter said. "He left a lasting mark on Purdue basketball, and will always hold a revered spot in the program's history."
Prior to his arrival at Purdue, Schaus was a key figure in the Los Angeles Lakers organization for 13 years as both a head coach and general manager. Beginning in 1960, the Newark, Ohio, native piloted the Lakers to seven-straight playoff appearances and four Western Conference titles in five years (1962, 1963, 1965 and 1966).
In 1967, Schaus moved into the front office for a six-year stint as the Lakers' GM, where he assembled the 1972 squad that is renowned as one of the best in league history. Led by legends Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich, Pat Riley and Jerry West, the team won an NBA-record 33-straight games and claimed the franchise's first NBA title.
Schaus got his coaching start at West Virginia, his alma mater, in 1954. He led the Mountaineers to six Southern Conference titles and NCAA tournament berths in as many years, and guided WVU to the NCAA title game in 1959. In six years at the helm of the West Virginia program, he tallied a record of 127-26 (.831).
Schaus returned to Morgantown in 1981 as WVU's ninth athletic director and led the program to six NCAA Tournament appearances in men's basketball and five bowl games, including a trip to the Fiesta Bowl to face Notre Dame for the 1988 national title, by the time he retired in 1989.
Schaus also served a stint on the NCAA men's basketball selection committee, and also played a role in the reorganization of college football's television arrangement that has since generated millions of dollars in revenue for participating members.
Before turning to coaching and administration, Schaus was one of the premier players of his era. A 1949 All-American, he was the first West Virginia player to accrue 1,000-career points before graduating a year early and signing a contract with the NBA's Fort Wayne Pistons.
In 1951, Schaus averaged 15.1 points per game and was selected to the first-ever NBA All-Star game, played in Boston on March 2, 1951. He played a total of five seasons in the NBA, four with Fort Wayne and one with the New York Knicks.
Schaus is survived by his wife, Barbara, sons John and Jim (athletic director at Ohio University) and five grandchildren.