Howard Engleman stood at center court at KU’s Allen Fieldhouse on March 1 and let himself go for a little bit. That’s right, “Rope” got all knotted as the
Jayhawks retired his No. 5 jersey in front of a capacity crowd, then proceeded to defeat Oklahoma State 79-61.
“It was great,” Engleman said. “My children and grandchildren were there. The best part (was) beating Oklahoma State.”
To the current Brothers of Gamma-Omicron, the ceremony was a chance to see one of the pillars of the fraternity, basketball and legal worlds be honored in front of a capacity crowd. “He seemed really flattered by the whole thing, really honored,” Clint Jones ’01 said. “It was a really nice ceremony. He reacted in a way that showed he was really, really flattered by the whole thing.”
Engleman’s retirement ceremony was a long time coming. After enrolling at KU and pledging Kappa Sigma in 1937, Brother Engleman joined the basketball team under the tutelage of legendary coach F. C. “Phog” Allen, and rose to become the nation’s top player during his junior season, when he was selected captain of the All-American basketball team. That season, his last-second shot
KU defeat Southern California in the NCAA semifinals. The game is still considered one of the greatest upsets in tournament history.
During his senior season, Engleman broke the Big Six scoring record, was named All-American for the second time, and was the Jayhawk tennis team’s No. 1 singles player.
But Brother Engleman is more than a talented athlete: he’s an American hero as well. After graduating from KU, Brother Engleman served three years in the US Navy. He returned to the United States, and enrolled at KU’s law school in 1946. He was elected president of the All-Student Council that fall, and took over as the Jayhawks’ basketball coach when Dr. Allen fell ill. Since then, he has been a lawyer.