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Forrest "Phog" Allen

James  Naismith and Forrest AllenBasketball coach.  Born: November 18, 1885. Jameson, Missouri.  Married Bessie E. Milton. Died: September 16, 1974, Lawrence, Kansas.

Forrest (Phog) Allen was a child when basketball was invented by James Naismith.  At the age of 10 Allen and his brothers formed a basketball team.  At that time the rules developed by Naismith allowed only one player to shoot the free throws.  For the Allen basketball team, Forrest was that player.

In 1904 Allen became a student at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. His basketball coach was the famed inventor of the game, James Naismith. In 1905 Forrest also played for the Kansas City Athletic Club.  It was his idea to promote the game by conducting a "World’s Championship of Basketball".  The Kansas City team was to play the touring Buffalo (New York) Germans in the Convention Hall.  Each of the games was to have a different referree, with James Naismith doing the honors for the third game. Allen, once again the designated free thrower, hit 17 of his attempts and the KCAC team won the national championship.

While Allen continued to play for KU, he also coached the nearby Baker University basketball team for three seasons from 1905-1908. In 1907, the KU coach, Naismith, decided to leave the university. Although only a senior, Allen was appointed the coach of the team.  Under Allen, the Jayhawks won the championship of the newly organized Missouri Valley Conference, in competition with Iowa State College and the Universities of Nebraska and Missouri. They had an 18-4 record that year.  Allen expanded his coaching the next year to include not only KU and Baker University but also Haskell Indian Institute. The combined record for the three schools was 74 and 10. 

In 1909, Allen left the Jayhawks to study osteopathic medicine. Returning to the university, "Doc" Allen began to coach all sports.  He used his knowledge as a osteopathic doctor to treat athletic injuries.  He also ran a private osteopathic practice. It was Allen's persuasiveness that led to basketball being accepted as an official Olympic sport in 1936.  He coached the United States Basketball team to the championship in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.

Altogether Allen coached college basketball for 50 seasons, compiling a 746-264 record.  Upon his retirement he had the all-time record for the most coaching wins among the college basketball coaches.  Today Kansas University continues to honor this great coach by playing in Allen Fieldhouse.  Allen became a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959.  Allen died in 1974 and is buried in Lawrence's Oakhill Cemetery, near the grave of James Naismith.

Entry: Allen, Forrest "Phog"

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: January 2011

Date Modified: April 2021

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.