Originally published June 12, 2009 at 10:00p.m., updated June 13, 2009 at 01:06a.m.

Former KU athletic director dies

Bob Frederick, who played and coached basketball at Kansas University and served as athletic director for 14 years, died Friday night at Kansas University Hospital at the age of 69.


Frederick leaves KU athletics legacy

Kansas athletics lost a special member in Bob Frederick on Friday night.

Accident occurred on damaged pavement

Thursday night’s bicycle accident apparently occurred when Bob Frederick hit a damaged section of pavement as he was riding north on Kasold Drive and was approaching Sixth Street. Frederick lost control of his bike and struck his head on the pavement.

Crews from the Lawrence Public Works department had patched the damaged section of pavement by 9 a.m. Friday. But city officials said the damage was not weather-related, and not considered a pothole.

“Right of way use permits show Black Hills Energy had been working in the area," said Lisa Patterson, a city spokeswoman.

The energy company had a permit to use the right of way in that area from May 19-29 to repair a gas main leak, Patterson said.

The city’s franchise agreement with Black Hills Energy “speaks to the company’s responsibilities to return the right of way to its previous condition,” Patterson said.

“The city has prepared a bill of $48 for the pavement patching to be submitted to Black Hills Energy,” Patterson said.

Bob Frederick, who played and coached basketball at Kansas University and served as athletic director for 14 years, died Friday night at Kansas University Hospital at the age of 69.

Frederick, who from 1995 to 1996 served as chair of the prestigious NCAA men’s basketball committee, died of injuries sustained in a Thursday evening bicycle accident.

“I can say he was the finest gentleman I’ve ever known in my life,” former KU basketball coach Roy Williams said Friday from his home in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Frederick hired Williams to replace Larry Brown in 1988, when future Hall of Famer Williams was an unknown assistant at the University of North Carolina, where he is now the head coach.

“He had such high standards ethically and morally, and the way he was concerned about the student-athlete … it was mind-boggling,” Williams added. “He was such a wonderful person, a family man. I don’t know where I would be right now … I know I would not have been able to enjoy so many unbelievable experiences if not for Bob Frederick. The list of athletic directors who would have hired Roy Williams in 1988 … the number of that list is one.”

Frederick died around 8 p.m. Friday at KU Hospital, where he underwent surgery Thursday night after a bicycle accident near the intersection of Sixth Street and Kasold Drive.

Kelly Hale, a spokeswoman for the Frederick family, issued a statement on behalf of the family: “We would like to thank our family and friends for their love and support during this difficult time. As an educator, coach and athletic director, our father touched many lives. He always wanted to live a life that mattered and he did.”

Frederick, who is survived by wife Margey and sons Brian, Brad, Mark and Christopher, donated his organs. His family encouraged others to become organ donors.

Outpouring of tributes

The news of Frederick’s bike accident and death both shocked and saddened friends of Frederick scattered all over the country.

“I love him. I’ve known him for 30 years. So many of us can say we don’t have a better friend,” said Bill Hancock, the first full-time administrator of the BCS.

“You think about the ways you know a guy. I worked with Bob on ticketing at the Big Eight tournament. He inspired me to ride my bike across the country,” added Hancock, who rode his bicycle coast to coast in a tribute to his own son, Will, who died in a plane crash in 2001 while working at Oklahoma State.

“We used to run every morning when he was on the NCAA Tournament committee and I was director of the tournament. It was our standard meeting at 6 a.m. to go running. He is an inspiration to me.”

Frederick, who was hired by then-Chancellor Gene Budig in 1987 and wound up with the second-longest tenure of a KU athletic director behind Phog Allen (19 years), also worked for Chancellor Robert Hemenway.

Since August 2001, Frederick taught in KU’s Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Science in the School of Education, and for two years served as department chair. He specialized in sport management, sport law and sport facilities.

“On behalf of the entire Jayhawk nation, I offer my sincerest condolences to Bob Frederick’s family and friends,” Hemenway said in a release issued by KU on Friday night. “Bob was a class act who led by example, the epitome of good sportsmanship and ethical conduct. He has been a role model for countless student-athletes and educators, and KU is a better place because of him.”

Noted current AD Lew Perkins: “Bob Frederick was an outstanding collegiate athletics administrator and, more importantly, a terrific human being, a loving husband and a great father. … And yet for all his success, his trademark was his sincere caring for student-athletes and coaches. He continued that legacy of caring into his work on the KU faculty. We will all miss him.”

Noted successes

Former KU assistant ADs Richard Konzem and Doug Vance worked for Frederick during his entire KU tenure, one in which KU teams won 32 conference titles and produced 41 Academic All-Americans.

KU during the 1992-93 academic year became the first school to win a football bowl game (the Aloha Bowl), reach the men’s basketball Final Four and advance to the baseball College World Series in the same school year.

“I am so thankful. I stood in line at Sam Miranda’s funeral last week, and Bob and I and Linda Davis (wife of KU radio play-by-play announcer Bob Davis) talked 40 minutes,” said Konzem, now the Rockhurst AD. “Intercollegiate athletics would be a lot better today if we had more people like Bob Frederick. He cared about kids. He had a list I use today … the qualities you look for in a head coach. The first is being a good person.”

Noted Vance: “Bob had a great leadership quality. He walked the path in life with set values. He treated people with a great deal of respect. He was for the student-athlete. He presided over a period of time there was a great deal of success in KU athletics. He had a positive influence on everybody he met. He held enormous respect nationally.”

Frederick’s AD predecessor, Monte Johnson, said he respected Frederick greatly.

“Bob probably represented integrity in college athletics as much as anybody I can think of,” Johnson said. “He knew players and coaches were the reason fans supported the program. He did a great job in the background. He’s as good a person as you can have in college athletics. He brought a coach here that gave us 15 of the greatest years of KU basketball. Bob’s the one who made that happen.”

That coach — Williams — will truly miss his buddy.

“There’s never been a person like him,” Williams said.


speedy 11 years, 3 months ago

60 years ago or so i was cutoff by a car who the put on his brakes unexpectantly. it a helpless feeling flying though the air waiting for the landining. head first and only got two sprained wrists. i feel for you fellow. get well quick.

area51 11 years, 3 months ago

He was a very good athletic director and a very good teacher. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. I hope that KU does something for the memory of this fine man.

killabees 11 years, 3 months ago

It's a sad day for the Jayhawk Nation. Our hopes and prayers are with his family and friends.

Chicago_JHawk 11 years, 3 months ago

Terrible news. Condolences to his family.

rockchalkjjjhawk 11 years, 3 months ago

Nice guy. Great Jayhawk. Tragic. My thoughts and prayers to his family.

cal742 11 years, 3 months ago

Dr. Frederick was a great man. He taught a couple classes of mine while at KU and even though he was a big time athletic director, he always had time for his students. It was an honor and privilege to have learned from him and he will always be remembered! RIP Doc

wi_jayhawk 11 years, 3 months ago

Wow, this is such a shock! He was a great guy! He will definitely be missed by all who knew him!

truefan 11 years, 3 months ago

I didn't know Dr. Frederick personally, but anyone who is a fan of the University of Kansas has been positively affected by the great work he did. He brought us all a lot of joy over the years even if we never got a chance to speak with him face to face. Dr. Frederick will be missed.

Michael Bratisax 11 years, 3 months ago

He made KU a better place. He was a class act. He will be missed.

jayhawk02 11 years, 3 months ago

He represented KU in amazing fashion. He was truly Mr. Jayhawk. My condolences go out to his family. They will be in my prayers.

DallasHawk 11 years, 3 months ago

Dr. Frederick was an amazing person and he will be missed. I had the opportunity to be in a couple of his classes and there could not have been a better educator and person. Terrible sad…

milwaukeeJAYHAWK 11 years, 3 months ago

wait, what killed him? he was wearing his helmet, but did he break his neck?

so sad

A life well lived Dr. F

cre017 11 years, 3 months ago

What a tragic, tragic loss of life. Dr. Bob, as a man who grew up during some of the highest moments in KU sports history, I thank you. I will see you in heaven my friend. We all owe you so much for the joy of winning sports you have provided to so many of us.

Meghan Sullivan 11 years, 3 months ago

I had the chance to work with Bob last spring when he offered to help out with Devin's Run. As Honorary Chair of the event, Bob was so dedicated in helping us with the event and took time out of his busy schedule because he honestly cared about the event and the cause. And over the few months I got to work with him I realized that this was his personality; honest, caring, and dedicated. Thank you, Bob. I feel lucky to have gotten to know you. You will be deeply missed.

John Randall 11 years, 3 months ago

Yes, he had on a helmet. He was a veteran of many biking event, ALWAYS wore his helmet and advocated them for all riders. Unfortunately, helmets/seat belts/air bags only limit injuries, don't prevent accidents.

One article mentioned that street was being used by heavy equipment to access a work site. It also stated that it was inaccurate to call it a "pot hole." Whatever the road condition at the time of Bob's accident, it had been covered by a temporary pavement patch early the next day when reporters arrived to look it over and possibly photograph it.

My guess is that Bob was riding a familiar route, encountered an unexpected hazard, and was thrown off his bike by his own momentum. Whether he landed on damaged pavement or not, the the accident and landing caused fatal injuries.

Tragic as it is to lose an exemplary human being at any stage of life, family, friends, colleagues, the University, the Conference, the national sports community can be grateful for the many benefits of having such a fine man for the time we did.

R.I.P., Mr. Fredericks, Rrroock Chaaallk, Jaaayyhaaawwk, Kaaayy UuuUU

Tony Bandle 11 years, 3 months ago

What a shock. Hopefully the KU teams can acknowledge his contributions by wearing his initials or some other appropriate means of recognition this coming year.

Tim Orel 11 years, 3 months ago

I knew him from Lawrence High School and I had a class with one of his sons. I, too, am sad to hear of his passing and I wish his family well.

melott 11 years, 3 months ago

I notice that the explanation of how the hole was there (something left undone by Black Hills, I believe) which was in the newspaper story has disappeared from the website. Is this suspicious or not?

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