Feb. 4, 2013
By Mark Janssen
It’s likely that no other single individual touched the lives of as many Kansas State Wildcat student-athletes than Ray Wauthier.
Wauthier died last Tuesday at the Meadowlark Hills Retirement Center in Manhattan at the age of 91.
On the Wildcat coaching scene, Wauthier guided the Kansas State baseball team from 1951-1964, and mentored the Wildcat golf team in 1977 and from 1980-86.
While his baseball teams never went better than the 10-10 1954 season, Wauthier’s golfers posted more wins than in any other coaching tenure with seven first-place team finishes.
But more than that is the fact that Wauthier was an icon in K-State’s physical education department with likely every student-athlete taking one of his basic P.E. classes, or coaching theory classes.
One of those was long-time Topeka West High School girls coach Mike Goering, who recalled, “Ray said if you stayed with one school more than five or six years you were asking for trouble. No. 1, you’d get yourself in a rut and you wouldn’t want to keep improving, or No. 2, people would expect more out of you and if you didn’t get it done right away, they’d ask you to take off.”
Wauthier was kindness extraordinaire, but also had a tough side when it came to his loyalty to his teams.
Perhaps the best player that Wauthier ever coached was Earl Woods, the father of golfing great Tiger Woods. It was Woods who broke the Big Seven color barrier in baseball in 1951.
Going into the state of Mississippi for a spring trip, the opposing coach noted Woods warming up prior to the game. That coach notified Wauthier that Woods would have to stay on the bus and not play.
Wauthier countered by putting every player on the bus and stating, “We just left.”
And on a trip into Oklahoma the team was preparing to check into a roadside motel only to have the manager tell Wauthier that Woods was not allowed to stay there.
The manager said that the rest of the team could stay, and that there was a motel three miles away that would permit Woods as a guest.
When Wauthier told the manager that he was about to lose K-State’s business, the manager countered, “Well, I guess I can check the rest of the team in. We don’t have rules against our guests having visitors, so maybe I just won’t see him go into a room. What I don’t know won’t hurt me, right?”
Wauthier gave a polite, “Thanks, but no thanks,” reply and took his Wildcat team down the road.
Wauthier was also the father-figure, if not grandfather-figure, to countless young football and basketball officials in the state of Kansas. The Northeast Kansas Officials Association honored Wauthier with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
The line used in defining Wauthier’s officiating is: “Ray set the standard for all others to follow.”
“He was a walking rule book, but he also used common sense,” said Manhattanite Rod Franz, who was on Wauthier’s four-man officiating team. “Whenever he walked on the field both coaches knew that the game would be called fair and neither side was going to have any sort of an advantage.”
Franz added, “Ray was a great teacher of how to officiate. He used to say, ‘Always be fair, and call what you see. If you don’t see it, don’t call it.’ ”
Wauthier officiated basketball for 25 years and football for 38 years, which included 16 championship games. He was so respected that he was selected as the referee for the National Federation of State High School Associations football rules film that was made in the mid-1980s.
He also officiated in the Kansas Jayhawk Conference and the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.
In 1992 he was inducted into the KSHSAA Hall of Fame and is also a member of the Kansas Collegiate Officials Association Hall of Fame.