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Otto Schnellbacher, at 84; Kansas football, basketball star

OTTO SCHNELLBACHER OTTO SCHNELLBACHER (Associated press/file 1946)
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By John Milburn
Associated Press / March 15, 2008

TOPEKA, Kan. - Otto Schnellbacher, a two-sport star at the University of Kansas who went on to play defensive back for the New York Giants and spend a season in the NBA in 1949, died Monday. He was 84.

His death was announced by the University of Kansas, where he was captain of the football and basketball teams. Basketball coach Bill Self said Mr. Schnellbacher had cancer.

"We lost one of KU's all-time greats," said Self, who last saw Mr. Schnellbacher and his wife in February. "He was just a Jayhawk through and through."

Mr. Schnellbacher played two seasons with the football New York Yankees in 1948 and 1949 before joining the Giants, where he was a Pro Bowl player in 1950 and 1951. He led the league with 11 interceptions in 1951. He spent the 1948-49 season in the NBA with the St. Louis Bombers and Providence Steamrollers.

Mr. Schnellbacher was born in the small Kansas town of Sublette. In college, he was known as the "Double Threat from Sublette." Standing 6 feet 4 inches, he was a standout wide receiver on the 1947 Kansas team that went 8-1-2 and played in the Orange Bowl, where the Jayhawks lost to Georgia Tech 20-14.

His 58 receptions and 1,069 yards during his college career stood as school records for 22 years.

In basketball, he was a four-time all-conference selection, one of only three players to accomplish the feat in school history.

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