The history of Wildcat basketball: The early years

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K-State fans cheer on their men’s basketball team during this year’s sunflower showdown against Kansas in Bramlage Coliseum on Feb. 29, 2020. The Jayhawks narrowly beat the Wildcats 62-58. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Editor’s note: This story is a part of a series that aims to highlight the history of Kansas State basketball coaches.

Charles Melick

Charles Melick was the first basketball coach at Kansas State from 1905-1906. He led the Aggies — what they were called at the time — to a 7-9 record before leaving to become the head football coach at the University of Maryland. Melick was only with the Terrapins for one year in 1907; leading the team to a 3-6 record.

Melick was born Lincoln, Nebraska, and received his bachelor of science from the University of Nebraska. While coaching at K-State, Melick was known for his invention of a new drink he called the “Kansas Ambrosia.” The drink was a mixture of buttermilk and ice cream. He passed away on April 15, 1960 in Pontiac, Michigan, at the age of 82.

Mike Ahearn

Known as the “Father of K-State athletics,” Mike Ahearn coached the K-State men’s basketball team from 1906-1911. He also coached the football team from 1905-1910 and the baseball team from 1904-1910. At one point from 1906-1910, Ahearn was the head coach for three different athletic programs at K-State. However, Ahearn found most of his success with the football team.

Every football season Ahearn coached, he provided a winning record and even won two conference titles. He also won two conference championships for the baseball program and one conference title in basketball.

From 1920-1947, Ahearn was the athletic director for K-State. During his time as AD, Ahearn installed Memorial Stadium, the home venue for football from 1922-1967. Shortly after he left his position as athletic director, Ahearn passed away in Manhattan on Feb. 5, 1948 at the age of 69.

Guy Lowman

Similar to Ahearn, Guy Lowman coached football, basketball and baseball for the Aggies. Lowman was the head coach for all three departments, starting with basketball and football in 1911. He took over the baseball program in 1912 and coached three programs at one time.

Lowman solidified one conference title for the football team in 1912. He left K-State all together in 1915 and began coaching at other notable schools, such as Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin and Alabama. On Sept. 14, 1943, Lowman passed away after battling a long-term illness. He was 66 years old.

Carl Merner

Carl Merner was the head coach for basketball at K-State from 1914-1916. Merner had an overall record of 25-23 at K-State. His first year, the team went 6-12 and finished 5th in the Missouri Valley Conference. Merner’s second and final season, the team went 13-3 and finished 3rd in the MVC. After leaving K-State Merner went to Columbia University and coached from 1916-1917.

Zora Clevenger

Former Indiana tri-sport athlete, Zora Clevenger, was the head coach for the football, basketball and baseball programs at K-State. Clevenger coached the football team from 1916-1919, the basketball team from 1916-1920 and the baseball team from 1919-1921. Along with coaching, Clevenger took the athletic director position from 1916-1920.

Clevenger also coached baseball, basketball and football at schools like Tennessee, Nebraska Wesleyan and Indiana. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1968. Shortly after his induction, Clevenger passed away on Nov. 24, 1970 at the age of 88.

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