Born: October 29, 1897 – Pittsburg, KS
Died: September 10, 1981
Graduated: College H.S., Pittsburg (KS), 1915; Manual Training Normal School (Pittsburg State University), 1918; MS – Iowa U., 1935
A big-time coach who never left his small-town roots in southeast Kansas, John Lance coached college basketball from 1918 to 1963, becoming just the fifth collegiate coach to reach 600 career victories. Lance finished his career with a record of 643-345 in 41 years at Pittsburg State and four years at Southwestern Oklahoma State (1918-22).
Pittsburg State Legend
Lance led Pittsburg State to a 47-game-winning streak from 1929 to 1932, a collegiate mark that stood until the Bill Russell-led San Francisco Dons won 60 straight games from 1955 to 1957. Two of Lance’s biggest victories at Pittsburg State came when he led the Gorillas to the championship of the 32-team-All-College Tournament in 1940, defeating Oklahoma A&M (Oklahoma State) in the semifinals and the University of Texas in the Finals. Lance guided Pittsburg State to the NAIA National Tournament five times, where they finished third twice, and to 12 Central Intercollegiate Conference championships. When he posted his 600th Victory in 1960, Lance joined the ranks of Ed Diddle, Hank Iba, Adolph Rupp, and Phog Allen as the only college basketball coaches to post 600 wins.
He was inducted into the Helms Foundation Hall of Fame in 1967 and the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1968.