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Bob Lutz: Wichita State basketball losing a vital cog

  • Published Wednesday, May 23, 2012, at 6:38 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, May 24, 2012, at 10:56 a.m.

Jan Bogle has a couple of ideas for books she would like to pursue. The Wichita State basketball coaches she has worked for the past 20 years will be glad to know none involve them.

“They’re nothing about basketball,’’ said Bogle, the Shockers’ long-time administrative assistant in the men’s basketball office who will retire after her eight-hour shift today. “I can’t say what the ideas are, but I’ll give you a copy if I get them published.’’

It’s time, Bogle said, to relax and enjoy life away from Shocker basketball, which has been her passion for two decades. It’s easy to identify the people who make Wichita State basketball happen in front of the bright lights. But it’s Bogle who has done the most behind the scenes.

“She’s irreplaceable,’’ WSU basketball coach Gregg Marshall said. “She could be the personal secretary to the President of the United States, that’s how effective she is. She was the reason that during my first season here (2007-08), I didn’t just say this was a mistake and I’ve got to get the heck out of here.’’

Marshall was exaggerating to make a point, but it’s a point he wanted to make. Bogle, a Larned native who has spent time all over the country and the world, will be missed.

And she will miss the basketball office, although it’s easy to tell she’s excited and ready to escape the grind.

“It’s time,’’ she said. “I’ll be 69 in July… It’s time.’’

Bogle will stop working full-time after today, but she’ll be in the office part-time for the next several weeks helping with the administrative part of Marshall’s basketball camps for kids. When June 23 rolls around, though, she’ll leave the office for the final time.

“I don’t think (today) will be any different than any other day,’’ Bogle said. “We’re not going to do anything different, I don’t think. I think it’ll just be a nice day. I just hope I don’t cry a lot.’’

Bogle was hired by Scott Thompson before the 1992-93 season and has been a Shocker basketball mainstay since. She remains in contact with coaches from all the staffs she has worked for, as well as players. She is particularly close to WSU players from the 1964-65 Final Four team, she said, having gotten to know them because her roommate was the girlfriend of Vernon Smith, a forward on that Shocker squad.

Just the other day, Bogle said, Mohamad Sharif, formerly Kelly Pete and a guard on that 1965 Final Four team, stopped by the office to visit. He lives in Tucson.

Bogle has seen two coaches — Thompson and Randy Smithson — be forced to resign or fired. Another, Mark Turgeon, left after seven successful seasons to coach at Texas A&M. Marshall has been at Wichita State the past five seasons.

“I much prefer seeing one of our coaches take another job over being fired,’’ Bogle said.

She was especially close to Thompson and his assistant coaches, but knew the end was probably near after his fourth season.

“You develop a relationship with the entire staff and all of a sudden they’re gone,’’ Bogle said. “It’s like losing a part of your family and you just have to pick up the pieces.’’

Smithson, too, didn’t last and was fired after four seasons.

It wasn’t until Turgeon arrived in 2000 that Bogle started to know stability. He was at Wichita State for seven seasons and coached the 2005-06 squad to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.

“But it was just as hard when Mark left, even though he was leaving for another job,’’ Bogle said. “I mean, those guys were just my kids, my family. That was a hard time.’’

Most times, though, Bogle doesn’t have time to reflect because she’s so busy.

Almost all coaches are Type-A personalities, hard workers who expect the same from those who work for them. And Bogle has never needed to be prodded; she’s been as devoted to Shocker basketball as any of the coaches or players.

“Losing Jan is like losing a full-time assistant coach,’’ WSU assistant Chris Jans said. “It’s maybe even worse because of her experience and how well she does her job. We’re not going to be able to replace her and whoever ultimately sits in that chair is going to have some shoes they’re not going to be able to fill right away.’’

Bogle and her husband, Ron, plan to visit their four children, who are scattered all over the country.

“But before I do anything,’’ Bogle said, “I’m going to sleep for two weeks. I’m just tired. I’m looking forward to retirement. I’ve been working for 53 years, so I’m ready.’’

Most of that work, Bogle said, was as a legal assistant for attorneys, judges and politicians, three professions that I mentioned probably rival college basketball coaches in ego and drive.

Bogle wouldn’t touch that one, except to say she has enjoyed her experience with all four of the Wichita State coaches she has worked with. But it’s the relationship with Shocker players that mean the most to her. She has been their confidant, adviser and surrogate mother and grandmother and said she still hears from players from the Thompson era, as well as those who played or are still playing for WSU.

“I love every one of these players,’’ Bogle said. “The latest one I just love is Toure Murry (a departing senior). He’s been absolutely the All-American kid. But there are so many of them who are that way, so many who are special.’’

As Bogle works her final day full-time in the Shocker basketball office, memories will undoubtedly flood her brain. She’s spent 20 years doing something she loves and being a part of the city’s most important sports entity.

“She’s not only been a friend,’’ Marshall said, “but also a nurturer. And in this position, that’s something you need.’’

Check Bob Lutz’s blog at blogs.kansas.com.lutz. Reach him at 316-268-6597 or blutz@wichitaeagle.com.

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