“You can’t coach basketball, Forrest, you play it.”
—Dr. James Naismith
Short and simply, Phog Allen is a basketball legend. In fact, by the time he was finished coaching, he had more wins than any coach in college basketball history. He became known as the “Father of Basketball Coaching,” compiling an amazing record of 771–233 in nearly fifty years on the bench. He was instrumental in making basketball an Olympic sport and left a legacy that few coaches have matched.
THE EARLY YEARS
Forrest Clare “Phog” Allen was born on November 18, 1885, in Jamesport, Missouri. He graduated from Independence High School near Kansas City, where he was an outstanding basketball player. Despite the fact that he was only about six feet tall, he took his amazing on-court abilities to the University of Kansas and won the honor of All-American twice, while also coaching the team during his final year on the squad.
RISE TO FAME
After graduating from KU, Allen took a coaching job at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas, for two years. He compiled a record of 46–2, a winning percentage almost unheard of for a new coach. The outstanding success opened doors for more coaching jobs, including a position at Haskell Institute and then at Warrensburg Teacher’s College (Central Missouri State University). He amassed an amazing record at Warrensburg of 107–7 during his six years at the school. After achieving such phenomenal success at smaller universities, he finally was offered a major coaching position at the school where he made his name as a player.
SHOW ME SUCCESS
Phog Allen officially took over the helm as head coach at the University of Kansas in 1920. His impact on the game as coach was swift. The Jayhawks under his helm won the national championship a mere three years after his arrival. Over the next nearly forty years at the university, he racked up nearly six hundred wins.
Allen died in 1974 and it has been more than a half-century since he last coached, but his impact on the game is still felt today. He spearheaded an effort to make basketball an Olympic sport in 1936 and then led the team to the gold medal sixteen years later. He also founded and became the first president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). His professional honors include the Helm’s Foundation “Basketball Man of the Year” in 1952, the NABC National Coach of the Year in 1950, and a second national championship with the Kansas Jayhawks in 1952.
*His college basketball coach at the University of Kansas was Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball.
*He was a leading proponent behind the formation of the NCAA basketball tournament.
*He was a charter inductee into the Naismith National Basketball Hall of Fame.
*Allen Fieldhouse at the Kansas University is named in his honor.