Players give back to honor coach who taught them more than just the game

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Gregg Grubaugh and other former players create scholarship fund to honor their old coach.

Former UNK men’s basketball coach Jerry Hueser taught the game.

But that was just part of what he gave his players.

“He taught us about life and what to expect after basketball and college,” former guard Gregg Grubaugh says. “He was not all just basketball.

“He was a good man.”

Grubaugh and other former players returned to campus Oct. 14 and 15 to raise money for Loper basketball scholarships.

And to honor their old coach.

Hueser, who guided the Lopers from 1970 to 1996, has the most wins in UNK history. His record over 25 seasons was 519-256.

His teams won Nebraska College Conference titles 15 times. They won the Central States Intercollegiate Conference championship three times. His 1972, 1975 and 1978-through-1987 teams represented District 11 in the NAIA National Championship Tournament in Kansas City. The 10 consecutive trips set a national record.

The 1978 squad finished as national runners-up. The 1982 squad finished fourth and won the team sportsmanship trophy.

“Coach Hueser and legendary players Tom Kropp – who’s now head co-coach – and Loren Killion put Kearney State on the basketball map,” said Grubaugh, who played guard for the Lopers from 1976-79.

About 45 former Lopers returned to campus for the alumni weekend. They attended a social at the Chicken Coop. They shot baskets at the Health and Sports Center with current players. At the home football game with Colorado State-Pueblo, the 1982 team was honored as a “Team of Distinction.”

After the game, the former Lopers – including Coach Hueser and his family – gathered at the Kearney Holiday Inn for dinner and program that was open to the public.

The weekend raised about $48,000 for scholarships.

The goal was to bring the Loper basketball team closer to a fully funded scholarship level so they can compete with the top teams in their new conference, the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA), according to Loper Hall of Famer Killion, who also helped plan the weekend.

Killion, who played under Hueser from 1974 to 1977, says it went really well for a first-time event.

“We want to do this annually,” he said. “It was special. A lot of players came back.

“A lot of players just had a lot of gratitude.”

As UNK joins the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 2012, private support is more important than ever. A new scholarship has been created in honor of Coach Jerry Hueser. If you’d like to support Loper men’s basketball and honor Coach Hueser with a gift, visit (and indicate in the comments box that it’s for the “Hueser Scholarship”) or contact Lucas Dart at 308-698-5272.

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