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Thursday, September 8, 2005

KU radio commentator will be sidelined four-to-six weeks

Max Falkenstien underwent emergency surgery on Wednesday

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Legendary Kansas University broadcaster Max Falkenstien underwent emergency intestinal surgery at Lawrence Memorial Hospital Wednesday morning.

"I underwent emergency surgery Wednesday for an intestinal blockage," Falkenstien said in a statement released by the university. "Malignancies were removed but my physicians and I are optimistic for a full recovery. I anticipate a four-to-six week recovery period after which I hope to return to the broadcast booth."

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Max and his family right now," KU Athletics Director Lew Perkins said. "We are all praying for a full and speedy recovery."

Falkenstien, who is in his 60th season as a broadcaster for KU sports teams announced last Tuesday that he plans to retire as color commentator on the KU radio network after working the final game of the 2005-06 men's basketball season.

"I decided a couple years ago I would hang it up after I reached 60 seasons and this just seems a good time to do it," Falkenstien said. "Although I still am in good health, I realize there finally comes a time when one must call an end to something, no matter how much he enjoys it.

"I will not dry up and fade away. I'll still be around, I'm sure."

Falkenstien said he might continue covering KU sports in some capacity.

"They indicated they want me to continue to do some things," he said of KU officials. "I will have the whole year to figure out what I want to do. Lew has been so nice to me. He said, 'Whatever you want to do, that's what we'll do.'"

Falkenstien originated the KU Sports Network and has done play-by-play and color commentary for both radio and TV. His long career has included all of KU's Final Four appearances and two basketball national championships.

Falkenstien, 81, has been inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and and the KU Athletic Hall of Fame. He also has been inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and the KU Athletic Hall of Fame.

In 2004 Falkenstien received the prestigious Curt Gowdy Award presented by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Sporting News in 2001 named Falkenstien "the best college radio personality in the country." ESPN's Dick Vitale selected KU's Bob Davis and Falkenstien to his "Sweet 16" of the best announce teams in the U.S.

"Max is awesome," KU basketball coach Bill Self said. "Max has performed at the highest level over an extended period of time like very few in his profession."

Jayhawk football coach Mark Mangino added: "Max has been synonymous with KU Athletics for six decades Although I've only known him for a few years, he has always shown great love and affection for our football team. Nobody in radio broadcasting has done it better than Max. We will surely miss him,"

Falkenstien chaired the State of Kansas Sports Hall of Fame for eight years, and in the spring of 2001, he was inducted as a member of that prestigious institution. He was the first inductee of the Lawrence High School Hall of Honor. In addition, he has been awarded an honorary "K" by the Kansas Lettermen's Club.

In 1998, the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., honored Falkenstien with the Chris Schenkel Award for long and outstanding merit in sports broadcasting. He was only the third person nationally to receive the recognition.

"Max is a true legend," noted KU associate AD Jim Marchiony. "It's hard to put into words what he means to this program. He means so much not only to Kansas basketball but all college basketball."

Falkenstien broadcast his first basketball game -- an NCAA tournament game in Kansas City between KU and Oklahoma A&M; -- on March 18, 1946. His next broadcast was KU's football opener against TCU on Sept. 21, 1946. He served as play-by-play voice of the Jayhawks for 39 years and switched to the commentator's role in September 1984 when Bob Davis assumed play-by-play duties.

He provided play-by-play on the Big Eight Conference basketball game of the week between 1968 and 1971. For more than three decades he hosted football and basketball coaches' TV shows, including those for Don Fambrough, Pepper Rogers, Mike Gottfried, Ted Owens, Larry Brown and Roy Williams.

"I will treasure the great friendships I've made," Falkenstien said. "Nobody will ever do this again. It's impossible. It's so long. It will never happen again."

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