Old Photos: Wilt Chamberlain Plays For The University of Kansas

This might cheer up some KU fans who are feeling down these days.

In January of 1957 Life Magazine published a report on Wilt Chamberlain who was recruited by KU in 1955.

What it took to get Wilt

Old recruiter, army of workers, rich alumni helped Kansas land star.

The University of Kansas has had the finger of suspicion pointed at it ever since it enrolled 7-foot-tall Wilt Chamberlain, who was sought by a hundred campuses and is now the most spectacular of all college basketball players. Every time Kansas wins with “Wilt the Stilt” (it has lost only once this season) gossipy stories of how he was recruited grow stronger – of under-the-table deals, of a trust fund of $10,000 (or $25,000) which waits for the big fellow when he graduates.
It sometimes takes money in one form or another for a college to get a greats star today. Because one college can usually offer as much as the next, it often takes something else. In this case it took the man talking to Wilt, aggressive, crafty Dr. Forrest C. (“Phog”) Allen, who for 39 stormy years had survived as coach in Kansas. How he mapped the strategy that brought Wilt to Kansas and led the small army that carried out is told on the following pages. The triumph turned to ashes for Allen last year when, kicking like a steer, he was forced to quit as coach at the compulsory retirement age of 70. When he is asked what he used to recruit Wilt, Phog has a blunt answer: “Of course I used everything we had to get him. What do you think I am, a Sunday school teacher?”

But first, presenting the original and still the best photo of a screaming KU fan.

Coach of the University of Kansas basketball team Forrest C. Allen (R, fore) watching a game.© Time Inc.George Silk

University of Kansas basketball coach Forrest C. Allen (L) talking to his star player Wilt Chamberlain (R) during practice. © Time Inc.George Silk

New coach: Dick Harp, formerly Allen's assistant, uses chess men to explain play to Wilt. Wilt openly gets standard athletic help - free boar, room, tuition and books, plus $135 for selling football programs and sweeping the stadium. © Time Inc.George Silk

Young admirer, 11-year old R.A.Edwards III, clutches Wilt's hand on the way to hotel after a tournament in Kansas City. In bag are basketballs. © Time Inc.George Silk

Chamberlain attending 8A.M. religion class. He majors in business,is a C student. © Time Inc.George Silk

Basketball player Wilt Chamberlain (C) attending an unidentified function.© Time Inc.George Silk

University of Kansas basketball star Wilt Chamberlain (C) playing in a game.

University of Kansas basketball player Wilt Chamberlain (C) playing in a school game.© Time Inc.George Silk

University of Kansas basketball player Wilt Chamberlain (C) playing in a school game.© Time Inc.George Silk

University of Kansas basketball star Wilt Chamberlain (C) playing in a game.© Time Inc.George Silk

University of Kansas basketball star Wilt Chamberlain (C) playing in a game.© Time Inc.George Silk

Update: A commenter on Reddit posted this video of Wilt’s jersey being retired in 1998.