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WVU legend Fred Schaus dies at age 84

February 12, 2010
MICKEY FURFARI, FAN-FARE

MORGANTOWN - Frederick Appleton Schaus, who was a legend in West Virginia University athletics, died on Wednesday night in a Morgantown nursing home after a lengthy illness. He was 84. Schaus was the only person in the University's history to serve as a player and head coach in a major sport and then as the director of athletics.

A native of Newark, Ohio, he was a student in high school basketball there, then served his country in the U.S. Navy during World War II. It was in the military service that he met Scotty Hamilton, who had achieved All-America status as playmaker of WVU's 1942 National Invitation Tournament championship team, and he urged Schaus to cast his lot with the Mountaineers.

A 6-foot-4 forward, Schaus became the first basketball player in school history to score 1,000 points in a career (1,009). He made the Helms Foundation All-American first team.

Schaus was a standout in 1947-48-49. He graduated in three years with honors and also was elected student body president.

He joined the Fort Wayne Pistons of the National Basketball Association in 1949-50. As a rookie, he led the team in scoring with 14.3 points per game. His best scoring came the next season for a 15.3 average. Schaus was chosen to play in the first NBA All-Star game and scored eight points for the West team. He was traded by the Pistons to the New York Knicks midway through the 1954 season, then he retired as a player to accept the head coaching position at West Virginia. Without any previous experience, Schaus became a smashing success.

During his six-year stint, WVU teams combined for a 146-37 record. That's an amazing percentage of .798 and Schaus guided the Mountaineers to an unprecedented six consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.

Both achievements still stand as all-time bests, as does the 1959 finish as NCAA tournament runner-up to Cal the famous 71-70 loss at Louisville, KY.

Schaus coached both Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley, the top two stars in Mountaineer history. The he left after the 1959-60 season to coach both of these greats in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers.

After leading the Lakers to seven consecutive NBA playoffs, Schaus left coaching to become the Lakers' general manager. He put together a team in 1977 that won an NBA-record 33 straight and captured the world title.

Schaus returned to college coaching at Purdue after leaving LA, and he led the Boilermakers to a 104-60 record. His 1974 team advanced to the National Invitation Tournament finals. That feat got him the distinction of being the nation's only coach to take teams to the finals of the NCAA, NIT, and NBA.

Schaus returned to WVU in 1981 as Athletic Director. As such, he took the department out of the red and into a comfortable financial level. He retired in 1989.

Schaus was highly respected throughout the country in both college and professional ranks. He served five years as a member of the NCAA Basketball Tournament selection committee.

Schaus is a member of the West Virginia sports and Ohio basketball halls of fame. He also was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1992. He also was a former member of the NCADA and CAA Athletic Boards.

Survivors include his wife, Barbara, of Morgantown; sons John of California and Jim of Ohio; six grandchildren and a sister. Friends will be received 2-4 pm, Sunday, February 14, at Suncrest United Methodist Church, where funeral services will follow.

Some remembrances from associates and friends of Schaus:

Ed Pastilong:

"Our deepest sympathy goes out to Barbara, a wonderful lady who over the years has been a major part of WVU's athletic family."

"We lost one of our finest student-athletes, coaches and administrators in Fred. He was an outstanding player, as evidenced by his induction into our athletic department hall of fame. He coached in one of our finest eras in basketball, and then returned to do an outstanding job of directing our athletic department."

"We are deeply indebted to his allegiance and service to WVU and out athletic department."

Jerry West:

"Fred was a humble, spirited competitor and his passion for winning and excellence were qualities about him that I admire. He led a full life. His family and friends were his most important focus during the times that I was closest to him."

Bob Huggins:

"Fred was everything. I think when Fred coached here they were in the polls for 40-some consecutive weeks, and they were one of the premier teams in college basketball. I don't know that there are a lot of people that can do the things Fred did in his career."

"From a great college coach to a great pro coach to a great pro front office guy, then coming back to college and winning at Purdue and then coming back to be a great athletic director here at WVU, he excelled in every area of athletics."

Gale Catlett:

"Coach Schaus was a great man, a great coach and a great athletic director. He touched and influenced many lives. He exemplified class, dignity and integrity, and he loved WVU."

 
 

 

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