George King dies At 78
George S. King Jr., 78, resident of Naples, Fla., and former resident of West Lafayette, Ind., died at the Hospice of Naples on October 5th at about 11:30 a.m., surrounded by his family after a brief illness. A devoted family person, King was born August 16, 1928 in Charleston, W. Va., and is survived by his spouse of 57 years Jeanne G. King, five children, 18 grandchildren, nine great grandchildren, many nieces and nephews, and two sisters.
King enjoyed a distinguished five-decade career in athletics that included achieving the highest levels of success as a player, coach and administrator.
As a player he is revered as one of the most famous basketball players to ever come out of the state of West Virginia. As a 6-foot guard at Morris Harvey College in Charleston, he led the nation in scoring two seasons and set several national records including a 31.2 scoring average in 1950, and a 117-game college career scoring mark of 2,535 points. He was twice named West Virginia's amateur athlete of the year in 1949 and 1950.
Recognized as one of the finest guards and ball-handlers in the National Basketball Association (NBA), he played five seasons with the Syracuse Nationals (1952-56) and helped them to the Eastern Division title in 1954 and the NBA crown in 1955 over Fort Wayne with a last minute free throw shot. He played the 1958 season with the Cincinnati Royals and in 1951 with the Phillips Oilers.
King received his B.A. degree in physical education from Morris Harvey (now known as the University of Charleston) in 1950 and his master's from West Virginia in 1957.
Following his playing days, King accepted his first coaching position at, Morris Harvey, in 1957. With a reputation as an excellent recruiter, he led his alma mater to a 12-12 record in 1957-58. He became the first full-time assistant coach at West Virginia University under coach Fred Schaus in 1959. When Schaus left for a coaching position with the Los Angeles Lakers prior to the 1960-61 season, King was hired as head coach of the Mountaineers. His teams won Southern Conference titles in 1962, 1963 and 1965 and played in three NCAA tournaments. His overall record at WVU was 103-43 (.703). During that time, he played a pioneering role in integrating the men's basketball program at WVU.
In the Spring of 1965, King brought his fast-breaking, exciting style of basketball to Indiana when he was hired as Purdue University's 14th basketball coach by athletics director Guy J. "Red" Mackey. As he had done in West Virginia, he continued to win big in West Lafayette posting a 109-64 record in seven seasons. He led the Boilermakers to their first Big Ten title in 29 years in 1969 and a trip to the national championship game. King also coached one of the first Big Ten teams to play in the NIT in 1971. In seven years at Purdue, he posted a staunch 109-64 record (.630) coaching All-Americans Dave Schellhase, the nation's leading scorer in 1965-66, and two-time All-American Rick Mount. He also mentored standout professional players Herman Gilliam (NBA) and Billy Keller (ABA).
Upon Mackey's death, King was elevated to athletic director at Purdue in 1971 and served one year in the dual role as coach and administrator before giving up the coaching duties in 1972. He ended his collegiate coaching career with a 223-119 (.652) record.
For the next 21 years as Purdue's seventh athletics director, King directed the Boilermaker program through a period of tremendous growth and change. He oversaw the emergence of women's athletics at the varsity level at Purdue in 1976-77. Extremely revered by his peers in the profession, King served as President of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), and chairperson of the NCAA's prestigious Committee on Committees and the NCAA Postseason Bowl committee.
King retired from Purdue in 1992 and was named to the school's Hall of Fame in 2001.
He was also named to the West Virginia Sportswriters Hall of Fame for athletics in 1975, to the prestigious Honors Committee of the National Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982, and the University of Charleston Hall of Fame in 1985. He was also honored as the recipient of NACDA's James J. Corbett Memorial Award in 1990.
Through all his professional accomplishments, King's greatest joy was his family. He married his high school sweetheart, the former Jeanne Greider, on June 18, 1949. His children, all Purdue University graduates are George S. King III of St. Charles, Ill., Kristy Jeanne King-Danielson of Bonita Springs, Fla, Kathy Jan King-Hirsty of Ft. Wayne, Ind., Kerry Jo King Rzeznik of Commerce Township, Mich., and Gordon Scott King of Los Angeles.
His surviving siblings are Marge Dubois and Katy Davis of Charleston, W.Va. He is preceded in death by brother Edward L. King of Los Angeles, and Helen Mullins of Charleston, W.Va., and many nieces and nephews.
He will be remembered as a loving husband, father and grandfather, and will be missed by many.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the George King Scholarship Fund at the University of Charleston, 2300 MacCorkle Avenue SE, Charleston, WV 25304, or The John Purdue Club, Purdue University, Ross-Ade Pavilion, West Lafayette, IN 47907. A service will be held at the Fuller Funeral Home, 1625 Pine Ridge Rd., Naples, FL 34109 on Tuesday, October 10th at 3 pm.