Gerald “Jerry” Waugh Born: February 12, 1927 (Wellington, KS) Died: September 17, 2022
Graduated: Wellington High School, 1945; University of Kansas, 1951
Those from Kansas get it all the time, and maybe it might bug you, but there is some truth to Dorothy’s familiar phrase, “There’s no place like home.” Certainly, there is no place like Kansas but for Gerald “Jerry” Waugh, there’s no place like Lawrence. Throughout his storied career, he seemed to always find his way back Lawrence and, as evidenced by his accomplishments, the people of Lawrence and the University of Kansas are glad that he did.
It was a long journey that all began in Wellington, Kansas. Waugh was an outstanding high school athlete and entered the United States Army straight out of high school where he served for eighteen months. Following his discharge from the service in 1947, Waugh enrolled at the University of Kansas to play basketball for Kansas Sports Hall of Fame inductee Forrest “Phog” Allen.
As a freshman in 1947, Waugh broke into an upperclassman-heavy starting lineup that included Kansas Sports Hall of Fame inductee Otto Schnellbacher and averaged 6.5 points per game. Waugh was the only non-senior to start during his sophomore season and improved his scoring average to 7.2 points per contest. During his junior season, Waugh teamed up with Kansas Sports Hall of Fame inductees Clyde Lovellette, Bill Hougland, Bill Lienhard, and Bob Kenney, all a year younger than Waugh, and led the Jayhawks to a share of the conference title in 1950. The Jayhawks finished second in the league during Waugh’s senior campaign in 1951 when the team’s captain averaged 6.7 points per game.
Following graduation, Waugh began his long coaching career by leaving his home for Emporia, where he took over as head coach of the high school. It didn’t take him long to get back to Lawrence however as he returned first as Lawrence High School’s basketball coach and then was hired by Kansas Sports Hall of Fame inductee Dick Harp as an assistant basketball coach at KU. Waugh helped guide the Jayhawks to a conference title and Final Four appearance in 1957 behind KU’s leading scorer, Kansas Sports Hall of Fame inductee Wilt Chamberlain.
Waugh spent three seasons under Harp but struck out on his own again in 1960, making stops in Arizona and as head coach of Chico State in California from 1968 to 1970 and San Francisco State from 1970 to 1972.
Like Dorothy, Waugh couldn’t resist the call of his home though and returned to the University of Kansas in 1974 as an Assistant Athletic Director over all Olympic sports at KU.
During this period of his life, Waugh became more heavily involved with another athletic passion of his: the game of golf. Waugh coached golf at KU several times throughout his career, including two seasons in 1958 and 1959, and again in 1976. In 1977, Waugh was named the chairman of the Kansas Open Golf Tournament, a position he held until 1995. He also served as president and board member of the Kansas Golf Association and was a ten year member of the United States Golf Association. In 1990, Waugh helped form the Kansas Golf Foundation and served on that organization’s board of directors.
In need of a women’s golf coach in 1992, the Jayhawks didn’t need to look very far to find their man as Jerry Waugh was once again called into coaching. He held the position until his retirement in 2000.
The honor of being inducted to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame is a long time coming for Jerry Waugh but he has been honored by several other organizations, including being inducted to the Kansas Golf Hall of Fame in 1998, the KU Booth Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000, and the Wellington Crusader Wall of Recognition in 2013.
Indeed, Jerry Waugh is right at home in Kansas and in our state’s Sports Hall of Fame.