University of Kansas
It’s possible that Charlie Hoag didn’t have a best sport — he was good at all of them.
An Illinois native, Hoag was a guard on Kansas’ first NCAA championship basketball team in 1952, and won a gold medal playing basketball for the United States in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. He was a two-time All-Big Seven halfback on the football field, and was chosen in the NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns in 1953. He lettered in track while at KU, and also lettered in baseball.
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He finished his football career with 1,914 rushing yards, a school record that stood until Gale Sayers came along.
The 1952 Kansas basketball team went 28-3 and beat St. John’s 80-63 in the NCAA title game. Hoag, a junior, had nine points and four rebounds in the final, part of the Jayhawks’ supporting cast for Clyde Lovellette under legendary coach F.C. “Phog” Allen.
Five days after winning the NCAA championship in Seattle, KU beat NIT champ LaSalle 70-65 in New York, earning a spot on the Olympic team for seven Jayhawks including Hoag.
But for all his collegiate achievements, Hoag never played sports professionally. He suffered a knee injury in a football game against Kansas State during his senior year, an injury that prevented him from playing basketball his senior season.
The 1952-53 KU basketball team made it back to the NCAA championship game, losing 69-68 to Indiana. “We won the national championship in 1952 and my senior year we got beat by one point for the national championship, and we all knew that if Charlie had played we would have had another national championship,” teammate Al Kelley told the Lawrence Journal-World in 2012. “Charlie was known throughout the Big Seven for his quickness, desire to win. He was really a competitive giant, respected by all of his teammates as well as other teams.”
Hoag made a living as an insurance broker in Topeka, and moved back to Lawrence after he retired. He died in 2012.