Hometown:  Beloit, KS (Beloit HS)
Born: 6/20/1930

Bill Hougland

CATEGORY   TOTAL   1950 1951 1952 '52 Olympics
YEAR     So. Jr. Sr.  
HEIGHT     6'4 6'4 6'4  
WEIGHT       180 176  
Games Played/Started 77/   23/ 24/ 27/ 3/
Points 452   119 129 191 13
   Per Game 5.9   5.2 5.4 7.1 4.3
   Per Game            
FG: Attempts            
       Made 175   45 51 79  
FT: Attempts 144   46 36 62  
       Made 102   29 27 46  
       Percent 70.8   63.1 75.0 74.2  
Production Points/Game            
Production Points/Minute            

1950:  Lettered, Starter.

1951:  Lettered, Starter.

1952:  Lettered, Starter, Captain.

1956:  Played in '56 Olympics, from the Phillips' 66ers.


Bill Hougland was the first basketball player in Olympic history to win two gold medals, something he accomplished at the 1952 games in Helsinki, Finland and the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.  He also was a starter on KU’s first NCAA national championship team in 1952.

Hougland was born in Caldwell, Kansas, in 1930 but moved to Beloit before the start of the 1946-47 school year.  The 6’4 junior Hougland became one of the state’s best players, leading Beloit High School to the Class A state championship game that year and the following year. After graduating, KU’s Phog Allen promised Hougland, if he came to Kansas, KU would win the national championship and go to the Olympics his senior year in college.  That was the heavy-duty recruiting pitch Allen gave to Hougland and his future teammates Clyde Lovellette, Bill Leinhard, and Bob Kenney in 1948.

Bill HouglandAt KU, he played in 77 games as a three-year starter. The 1950 and ’51 improved each year, before really jelling his senior year in 1952.

Phog Allen once said “Now one of our best players was Bill Hougland. I coached Bill for four years at Kansas and I learned what makes him tick.  I knew him as a boy, dedicated to giving himself to a cause in which others were involved – in sports such a boy is known as a player’s player.  There was an utter simplicity about everything Bill did – about his living habits, in what he said, in how he acted. Yet Bill owned a fiery side and was, in every sense, a competitor.  He got out of sports as much as any boy I ever knew.  Bill’s spirit was our spark plug.”

At the end of the conference season in 1952, KU whipped K-State to tie for the Big Seven lead and then won the title outright by downing Colorado at Boulder.  The bad news was that Hougland received a deep bruise on his left thigh during the K-State game and wasn’t able to do much at Colorado. Hougland hobbled through the tournament victories over TCU, St. Louis and Santa Clara, but he remained doubtful on the eve of KU’s title showdown with St. John’s in Seattle. Ailing as he was, the determined Bill scored five points, bagged six rebounds, and played fierce defense, leading KU to an 80-63 romp, for KU’s first NCAA championship.

The team then went on to beat Southwest Missouri and LaSalle, and then lost by two points to the AAU champion Peoria Caterpillars, earning seven spots on the US Olympic team. Hougland was the outstanding player throughout the games.  It was his clutch play in the finals against Russia that turned the tide.  With the score tied 15-15, he cleared a rebound, dribbled down the court, pulled up and scored just before the buzzer ended the first half. The Jayhawk-dominated team went on to down the USSR, 36-25, in the gold medal game after outscoring Argentina, 85-76, in a more entertaining semifinal.

“It was a dull game,” Hougland said of the final. “Warren Womble (of Peoria Caterpillar AAU, who was U.S. head coach with KU’s Phog Allen the assistant) put our KU team in much of the second half because of the defense we played.” Hougland told Allen on their way back from Helsinki, “Doc, what our team has accomplished proves if you work hard enough at anything you can get the job done.”e also was a starter on KU’s first NCAA national

After leaving KU, he went to work for Phillips Petroleum Company and played for the Phillips 66 AAU basketball team, which won the Olympic playoff in 1956 to qualify for the Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia.  The US team won gold again as Hougland, the team captain, brought home his second medal. 

Hougland played AAU ball for two more years then left Phillips in 1961 and went to work for Koch Industries, later becoming president of Koch Oil, for 30 years before retiring in 1991. 

Hougland was appointed to the Kansas All-Sports Hall of Fame Board of Trustees.  He and his wife Carolie donated $1.2 million to KU to assist four programs at the university.  For several years, he was a member of KU’s Board of Advisors. He now lives in Lawrence.

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