Originally published March 9, 2012 at 05:41p.m., updated March 9, 2012 at 07:54p.m.
Charlie Hoag, a football star and member of the 1952 national-championship basketball team at Kansas University, died Thursday at the age of 81 at KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.
Hoag, 81, was born in Oak Park, Ill., and spent his final years in Lawrence after moving from Topeka.
An All-Big Seven halfback in 1950 and 1952, Hoag tore a knee ligament in a football game at Kansas State during his senior year, an injury that also ended his basketball career.
Hoag contributed nine points and four rebounds off the bench in the '52 title-game victory against St. John's. He and six KU teammates played on the United States gold-medal-winning Olympic basketball team in 1952.
"We won the national championship in 1952 and my senior year (1953) we got beat by one point (against Indiana) for the national championship, and we all knew that if Charlie had played we would have had another national championship," teammate Al Kelley said Friday, from his Sprint Center seat. "Charlie was known throughout the Big Seven for his quickness, desire to win. He was really a competitive giant, respected by all of his teammates as well as other teams."
An Olympic gold medalist and national champion in basketball, Hoag was known as an even better football player.
Hoag was captain of the football team as a senior.
"In those days, they couldn't repair the ligament injury he had," said former KU basketball star and assistant coach Jerry Waugh. "In my opinion, he would have had a great career in professional football. He was about 6-foot-3, 190 pounds and had great speed, great quickness. He wasn't as skilled a basketball player, but he was just a wonderful athlete and therefore was part of a team that won a national championship."
After retiring from the insurance business in Topeka, Hoag eventually moved to Lawrence, where he enjoyed watching his grandchildren compete in middle school and high school athletics. Chase Hoag played basketball for Free State High. Austin Hoag, also played basketball at FSHS and won a state title in the high jump. And Courtney Hoag recently wrapped up her basketball and volleyball seasons at Bishop Seabury.