Former University of Kansas Athletic Director and men’s basketball student athlete Monte Johnson died Monday, his family confirmed to Kansas Athletics. Johnson was 84 years old.
Johnson first arrived at KU in 1955 on an academic scholarship from Wyandotte High School. The Kansas City, KS native was a walk-on for Kansas men’s basketball, and ended up on the same team as Wilt Chamberlain in 1956-57 when the Jayhawks made it to the NCAA finals.
From there, Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in business, graduating in 1959, and a master’s of business administration degree in 1967. In between degrees, though, he got involved with KU Athletics in 1961 as director of public relations, business manager and assistant athletics director.
“Monte Johnson was a true Jayhawk through and through, and he will be greatly missed,” said current Kansas Director of Athletics Travis Goff in a press release Monday. “Every decision he made as the Athletics Director was to better the University of Kansas Athletics department and the student-athlete experience.”
He then went on to begin an 11-year banking career for Bank IV of Wichita, becoming senior vice president of the company before returning to Kansas to become the Athletic Director in 1982.
During his time as AD, he oversaw the hiring of Larry Brown, who was the head coach for Kansas men’s basketball when the team won the NCAA title in 1988. He was the 11th athletic director in the history of Kansas Athletics.
Today, the Johnson family continues to give back to Kansas Athletics. In 1997, the family created a scholarship amounting to over $100,000 for Kansas basketball walk-ons. Johnson also received the Fred Ellsworth Medallion by the KU Alumni Association signifying unique and significant service to the University of Kansas.
Johnson is survived by his wife Kay Johnson, daughter Jackie and son Jeff who are all KU alumni.