gardner james
Gardner, Jack
  • First coach to take two different schools to the Final Four
  • Coach responsible for building K-State’s basketball program into a national power in the 1940s & 1950s
  • Won 649 collegiate games
Gardner, Jack

Inducted 2000

Born: March 29, 1910 - Texico, NM

Died: April 9, 2000 - Salt Lake City, UT

Graduated: Redlands (CA) H.S., 1928; University of Southern California, 1932

Overview

The first basketball coach in NCAA history to take two different schools to the Final Four twice, Jack Gardner is unchallenged as the man responsible for building Kansas State University into a national basketball power in the 1940s and ‘50s.

Playing Career

After earning 16 letters in four sports in high school, Gardner went on to the University of Southern California where he was named captain and MVP of the 1932 Trojans’ basketball team.

Coaching Highlights

He began his career by coaching championship high school and junior college teams in California before taking over as head coach at Kansas State in 1939.  His tenure was interrupted by World War II but he returned in 1946 to begin the “golden” era for KSU basketball.  The 1948 squad finished 22-6 and became the first Wildcat team to reach the Final Four.  Three years later, Gardner brought K-State all the way to the NCAA championship game with a 25-4 record where they lost in the finals to Kentucky.  The success of K-State’s teams under Gardner led to the building of fabled Ahearn Field House In 1951.  His 10–year record at KSU was 147-81.  Gardner left K-State in 1953 for Utah where he spent 18 seasons and led the Utes to 339 wins, 10 post-season appearances including two Final Fours, and seven league titles.  Overall, “The Fox” as he became known, won 649 games over his 36 years.  In 1979, Gardner joined the Utah Jazz as a consultant when the team moved from New Orleans.  He has been enshrined in numerous halls of fame including the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983.