A Champion On and Off the Court
University of Oklahoma Head Basketball Coach Lon Kruger is entering his 33rd season as a collegiate head coach and his eighth campaign as head coach at Oklahoma. After inheriting a program that went 27-36 in the two seasons prior to his arrival, he has coached the Sooners to a 140-91 record and has reached the NCAA Tournament in five of the past six seasons.
Lon boasts the 10th-most career wins among active coaches and is the 33rd head coach to win 600 Division I games in the history of college basketball. He owns a 20-18 record in NCAA Tournament games and has compiled an amazing 16 20-plus-win seasons, including nine in his last 13 years.
In 2017, he was honored with the National Association of Basketball Coaches Metropolitan Award for long and outstanding service to men’s college basketball. Before the start of the 2018-19 campaign, the John R. Wooden Award selected him as the 2019 recipient of its Legends of Coaching Award. Honorees are selected based on character, success on the court, graduation rate of student-athletes in their basketball program, coaching philosophy and identification with the goals of the John R. Wooden Award.
But while his many Sooner fans know him for his successes on the court, Lon is known in other circles as a community champion. He is in his first year as council chair of Coaches vs. Cancer, a nationwide program partnering with the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and he has been a member of the Coaches vs. Cancer Council since 2007, as well as a longtime supporter of the American Cancer Society.
When not mentoring or coaching or performing community service, the coach enjoys spending time with his wife, Barb, on their farm, where they have five horses.
Lon, who lettered in football, basketball and baseball during high school and went on play basketball at Kansas State University, where he helped lead the school to back-to-back Big Eight Conference titles in 1972 and 1973, makes keeping active a personal priority. To save wear and tear on the joints, he has moved from running to using ellipticals, and also enjoys golf in season.
“Having been active as an athlete in my earlier days has definitely carried over,” he says. “There is some history of heart disease in my family, and so I knew early on it was important to be aware of what I eat, combined with activities.”
Reports showing decreased activity levels among America’s youth worries Kruger, who knows that low activity levels in early life tend to translate into the same in adulthood. And those who lead less active, less healthy lifestyles are at greater risk of cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening illnesses. He encourages parents to get their sons and daughters involved in sports or other activities that will get them up and moving.