clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

‘Mr. K-State’ Ernie Barrett (1929-2023)

No athlete, coach, or administrator has been more synonymous with Kansas State.

Kentucky v Kansas State Photo by Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Ernie Barrett, the student athlete, coach, administrator, and fundraiser so closely associated with Kansas State that he was universally known as Mr. K-State, passed away at the age of 93 Friday morning, the university announced.

Barrett was a sought-after recruit out of Wellington High School in 1948, joining the K-State men’s basketball team under head coach Jack Gardner and assistant Tex Winter. In his time in Manhattan, Barrett led the Wildcats to the 1951 national championship game. After a brief NBA career with the Boston Celtics, Barrett returned to K-State as an assistant coach, then an athletics administrator, consultant to the university, and finally chief fundraiser as director of development from 1991-2007, when he finally retired at age 78.

Barrett earned two degrees from Kansas State: a bachelor’s in physical education, and a master’s in journalism.

Barrett’s firm handshakes were so famous that his statue outside Bramlage Coliseum depicts him offering a handshake. Barrett was part of the inaugural class of the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame and was the first inductee of the Colbert Hills Hall of Fame.

Bring on the Cats joins the rest of the Wildcat community in mourning the one and only “Mr. K-State.”

Memorials may be made to the Ernie and Bonnie Barrett Family Men’s Basketball Scholarship via the Kansas State University Foundation. Donations can be made online at