Shocker Summer: Ralph Miller left Wichita in great basketball shape

08/04/2014 9:00 AM

07/30/2014 1:52 PM

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the Beacon on March 30, 1964.

Ralph Miller Monday announced his resignation as head basketball coach at the University of Wichita to accept a similar post at the University of Iowa.

Announcement of Miller’s resignation, following a week of speculation that he was leaving, was made by WU Coordinator of Athletics Bob Donaldson. The resignation is effective May 1.

Miller’s resignation ended 13 years of coaching Shocker basketball teams, during which he had only one losing season. Miller will succeed Sharm Scheuerman as coach at Iowa.

Miller was named head basketball coach at WU in 1951 to succeed Ken Gunning. He earlier coached three years at Wichita High School East.

In tendering his resignation, Miller issued the following statement:

“After a great deal of thoughtful deliberation, I have resigned my position with the University of Wichita as head basketball coach and have accepted a similar position with the State University of Iowa.

EXPRESSES REGRETS

“It is with sincere regrets that my family and I leave our players, our friends and our associates at the University of Wichita and the city of Wichita.

“We will always be eternally grateful to so many for the loyalty and support we have had.

“Naturally, we are pleased to be offered the exceptional fine opportunity at Iowa and look forward to the new challenges and acquiring of new friends.

“But, to all of you in Wichita, thanks for 16 years of thrilling and wonderful memories.”

Donaldson said that plans for hiring Miller’s successor will get underway immediately, but said there wasn’t any thought at this time as to whom that new coach will be.

A screening committee of six members, headed by Dr. James K. Sours, chairman of the athletic policy committee, will handle the process of naming the new basketball coach.

ACCEPTANCE STATEMENT

Donaldson issued the following statement:

“It is with deepest regret that the University of Wichita accepts the resignation of Ralph Miller as head basketball coach.

“Coach Miller has been at the university 13 years. His work has been excellent and he is a fine leader of young men.

“He has brought national reputation to the University and to the City of Wichita.

“Coach Miller, his wife, Jean, and his family have been an integral part of campus and community life.

“We wish him the best as head basketball coach at Iowa.”

Forrest Evashevski, director of athletics at Iowa, said Miller was the only candidate for the post invited to the campus for an interview.

“We believe we are placing our basketball future in the hands of an outstanding coach,” Evashevski said.

Wichita won a playoff game with Drake for the right to enter the NCAA playoffs. The Shockers lost in the semifinals to Kansas State.

Miller’s club closed the 1963-64 season with 22 victories and six defeats, bringing his career record at Wichita to 219 victories and 133 defeats.

Miller is a native of Chanute, Kan., where he starred in basketball and football. He attended the University of Kansas where he was outstanding in both sports, althugh bothered much of the time by a football injury to his knee. He was named All-American in basketball at KU.

The Jayhawker star took over the reins at Wichita East High School late in the 1947-48 season. He coached the team for the last five games of the season, winning four and losing one and taking the team to the Class AA state tournament. He stayed at East three more years, compiling a 68-17 record. In his three full seasons at East, he won second, third and first places in the state tournament, marking the first time the Aces had won the state high school classic.

He was then named to the Wichita U. position.

Miller is married to the former Jean Milam of Topeka. They are the parents of four children: Susan, 18, a student at the University of Wichita; Ralph, Jr., 16, who attends St. John’s Military Academy in Salina, and Paul, 8, and Shannon, 4. They reside at 102 N. Fountain.

Praise was expressed of Miller by Dr. Emory Lindquist, president of the University of Wichita, stressing Miller’s leadership and loyalty.

“Ralph Miller leaves to the university a fine legacy of sportsmanship, leadership, loyalty and achievement,” Dr. Lindquist said.

“He is a fine person and a fine coach. The university is grateful for the years of splendid association.

“Our heartiest wishes go to Ralph Miller for even greater accomplishments across the years.”

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