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Old 04-21-2023, 09:56 AM   #1
KatDad
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A Sad Day for Wildcat Nation

Legendary Ernie Barrett, known as Mr. K-State has passed away.

He could almost break your hand with a handshake, and today Kansas State fans everywhere mourn the passing of a Wildcat legend. Ernie Barrett, the man known as “Mister K-State” from Wellington, has died. Barrett was 93 years old and recently in hospice care.

Barrett was Kansas State University’s athletic director from 1969-75, the school’s first Kansas-born athlete (Pratt) to direct the athletics program. First though, he was a Wildcats’ basketball star from 1948-51 and in his senior season led the school to the brink of a national championship. Kansas State played its first season at Ahearn Field House that year in 1950-51 and the team won 21 of 22 games at the new campus fieldhouse on 17th Street and College Heights. Only a loss at Oklahoma blemished a 12-game Big Seven Conference record.

Barrett averaged nearly 10.5 points for Jack Gardner’s eighth and most accomplished squad which went 25-3 before its 68-58 loss to Kentucky in the national championship game at the University of Minnesota’s Williams Arena. Barrett played sparingly against UK with a shoulder injury he’d suffered in a West Regional final game against Oklahoma State.

His 75-plus-year affiliation with Kansas State University is legendary. Barrett was drafted and played professionally for two seasons with the Boston Celtics. His final season was 1955-56 and Barrett returned to campus as an assistant coach to Tex Winter. He moved into fundraising and was later director of development for a lengthy period, only to remain as a fundraiser with K-State Athletics for many years until his 2007 retirement.

If you wore purple and approached Ernie Barrett, he was all too happy to talk about the Cats. He was of course known for his vise-like grip of a handshake. Barrett was a 1990 inductee into the K-State Hall of Fame and a Kansas Sports Hall of Fame selection in 1996. When Kansas State celebrated 100 years of college basketball in 2003, Barrett was included on the 13-member, all-century team.

In 2005, Barrett’s No. 22 was part of the first class of jersey retirements, aka, players “in the rafters” at Bramlage Coliseum along with Bob Boozer and Jack Parr. Barrett was more than an athlete, assistant or administrator, he was for more than 50 years the heart and soul of Wildcat athletics. His role to raise money for a new coliseum deemed it important to build the statue that stands outside of Bramlage Coliseum.

Wildcat Nation mourns the loss of its most dedicated son. RIP Ernie.
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