Legendary Kansas State men’s basketball coach Fred “Tex” Winter passed away on Wednesday (October 10) at the age of 96 in Manhattan, Kansas. Memorial services are pending.
A multiple Hall of Fame inductee, including the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City in 2010 and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011, Winter spent more than six decades coaching both college and professional basketball, which included his famous stint as an assistant coach to famed head coach Phil Jacksonon 11 NBA Championship teams with the Chicago Bulls (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 1998) and the Los Angeles Lakers (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2009).
In addition, Winter won more than 500 games as a head coach, which included stints at Marquette (1951-53), Kansas State (1954-68), Washington (1969-72), the NBA’s Houston Rockets (1972-74), Northwestern (1975-78) and Long Beach State (1978-83). In total, he won 454 games in college, while he went 51-78 with the Rockets.
An innovator of the “Triangle Offense,” Winter earned a reputation as one of the most creative offensive coaches in the land, and in 1962, published a book on the offense entitled The Triple-Post Offense.
A native of Huntington Park, California, Winter’s ties to K-State began in 1947 when he became the first full-time assistant to head coach Jack Gardner. After helping Gardner and the Wildcats to 76 wins and two Final Four appearances from 1947-51, he became the youngest coach in the nation at Marquette, where he guided the Warriors to the National Catholic Championship in his first season.
Winter succeeded Gardner as head coach in 1953, leading K-State to some of its greatest successes on the basketball court. He led the Wildcats to a 261-118 (.689) record from 1954 to 1968, which included eight Big Seven/Eight Conference titles, five Big Seven/Eight Holiday Tournament crowns, six NCAA Tournament appearances and two Final Fours (1959 and 1964). His 261 wins rank second all-time in school history behind Jack Hartman’s 295, while his .689 winning percentage ranks third.
Winter also laid claim to more conference titles (eight) than any other head coach in the program’s history, while his teams finished among the Top 20 nationally nine times in his 15 seasons, including No. 1 in both polls in 1958-59. He is the only person to be affiliated with all four of K-State’s Final Four teams (1948, 1951, 1959 and 1964).
There were several outstanding teams under Winter, two of which advanced to the Final Four. He won four consecutive conference championships from 1957 to 1961, including earning the school’s first No. 1 ranking during the 1957-58 season, while he won back-to-back crowns in 1962-64 and then another in his final season in 1967-68. The 1957-58 squad, anchored by All-Americans Bob Boozer and Jack Parr, lost just three games in the regular season, advancing to the school’s third Final Four. The Wildcats lost to Seattle and Temple in the Final Four.
In addition to his induction in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Winter is also a member of the state of Kansas and Kansas State University Sports Halls of Fame.
The university honored Winter in January 2015 with the naming of “Tex Winter Drive,” which leads to Bramlage and the Ice Family Basketball Center on the east at Gate 7 off Kimball Avenue.
Winter is survived his wife, Nancy, and sons, Brian,Chris (wife, Kim) and Russ, and three grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his mother, Theo, father, Marion, twin sister, Mona Frances, brother, Ernest, and sister, Elizabeth Winter Green.
Statements from Kansas State Athletics:
Director of Athletics Gene Taylor
“Today is a sad day for not only Kansas State University but also the entire basketball world with the passing of Coach Winter. He transformed the game of basketball at all levels and will always remain an integral piece of our rich basketball tradition here at K-State. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Winter family during this time. He will certainly be missed by the entire K-State family.”
Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bruce Weber
“We are saddened by the passing of such a legendary coach in Fred “Tex” Winter, who touched nearly every level of basketball. Obviously, he is known for his success as an assistant to Phil Jackson with the Bulls and Lakers during their run to 11 NBA titles. However, he left a tremendous mark of achievement at Kansas State, including two Final Fours. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Nancy, his children, Brian, Chris and Russ, and grandchildren during this difficult time.”