The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Sports

February 14, 2010

Schaus was ‘one in a million’

MORGANTOWN — The late Adolph Rupp, legendary basketball coach at Kentucky, told West Virginia superstar Jerry West, “Son, you’re one in a million,” some years ago.

That was after the wonderful West had led the Mountaineers to the school’s best back-to-back basketball victories in history. Those wins were over No. 5 Kentucky and No. 1 North Carolina to capture the Kentucky Invitational Tournament championship.

Two days later, West Virginia was voted No. 1 in both major polls. It also finished the season at No. 1.

Fred Schaus was WVU’s head coach and he went on to become the most successful coach in school history. His six-year record of 146-37 remains the highest percentage ever at WVU.

Since that golden era in Mountaineer basketball, I thought Schaus, West’s mentor, also merited the tag, “You’re one in a million.”

Not only as a great coach in major-college competition but in the National Basketball Association as well.

The Newark, Ohio, native had chosen WVU over Ohio State and other colleges to become an All-America player. He played professional basketball five years before beginning his coaching career at WVU in 1955.

Family and friends packed Morgantown’s Suncrest United Methodist Church Sunday afternoon to honor Schaus at his funeral. Burial was to follow in Ohio today.

As one who reported on his numerous achievements, I believe Schaus was among the chief contributors to his alma mater athletically over the years.

That included not only his three-year playing stint, but also his six years as coach and his time as athletic director from 1981 to 1989. He answered a call to clean up a financial mess in the athletic department.

It was in the red and he had the know-how to turn the red ink into black. He could be tight-fisted when necessary.

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