Former Kansas All-American O'Leary dies at age 90

Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Ted O'Leary, a Kansas University men's basketball All-American in1932, died on Sunday night in Kansas City, Mo.

O'Leary, who turned 90 in December, was believed to be KU's oldest living former All-American. He was the oldest former letter winner to attend the 100th reunion of Kansas basketball in 1998.

O'Leary played for Phog Allen and lettered three years (1930-32). He played on two conference championship teams (1931-32), was a co-captain, and earned all-conference and All-America honors in 1932. He led the Jayhawks and the conference in scoring with an 11.0 average in 1932.

Following graduation, O'Leary served as head basketball coach at George Washington University for two seasons (1932-34).

O'Leary later was a writer for the Kansas City Star and for Sports Illustrated. He was also an accomplished handball player and was named to the National Handball Hall of Fame.

O'Leary is one of the few former players who had the distinction of knowing every head basketball coach in KU history, from Dr. James Naismith to Roy Williams.

Bill Mayer, Journal-World contributing editor, was a longtime acquaintance of O'Leary.

"Ted was a sensational athlete basketball, handball, tennis and had one of the fiercest competitive spirits you ever saw. He refused to accept defeat," Mayer said. "But he was so much more than that. Ted was an amazing intellectual with an incredible range of interests."

Kansas University athletics director Bob Frederick called O'Leary "a great gentleman."

"He obviously lived 90 really productive years," Frederick added. "It was great to be around a person who knew James Naismith. He's maybe one of the last individuals around now that knew Dr. Naismith. We will all miss him greatly."

Funeral arrangements are pending.