Former Kansas football player and coach Don Fambrough passed away here Saturday at the age of 88. The beloved Jayhawk, who guided KU for eight seasons, died after a fall near his residence in Lawrence.
Of the nine bowl games the University of Kansas has participated in, Fambrough played or coached in five of them. As a player at Kansas, Fambrough earned All-Big Six honors in 1946 and 1947. At the conclusion of the 1947 season he helped lead the team to the Orange Bowl.
When the Lawrence Journal World polled Jayhawk fans to select an all-time team to help commemorate college football's centennial year, Fambrough was a first-team choice at guard. After graduating, he continued his association with Kansas football by serving as a graduate assistant on the Jayhawk coaching staff under J.V. Sikes. When he became head coach of the Jayhawks in 1971 he had served 19 years as an assistant coach under Sikes, Jack Mitchell and Pepper Rodgers.
In just his third season as head coach, he led the team to the 1973 Liberty Bowl. After the 1974 season, he became Assistant Director of the Williams Fund where he remained until accepting the reigns of the football program again in 1979. In 1981 he coached the Jayhawks to the Hall Of Fame Bowl, the same year he was voted the Associated Press Big Eight Coach of the Year.
“Don Fambrough is a Jayhawk legend,” said University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “As an alumnus and a storied and salty football coach, Fambrough had an unbridled passion for the University of Kansas. On behalf of the entire Jayhawk nation, I honor his memory and extend the deepest condolences to his family, friends and generation after generation of KU fans he touched.”
“Don Fambrough was an icon – not just on the KU campus, but across the state of Kansas,” said Kansas Director of Athletics Sheahon Zenger. “He wore his passion for KU on his sleeve, and every day he proudly demonstrated his love for Kansas Football and Kansas Athletics. He loved his players, and they played their hearts out for him. We will all miss him greatly.”
Fambrough is survived by his two sons, Preston and Robert, along with several grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.