SE: Hall of Fame Spotlight: Max Moss
On Jan. 29,
K-State Athletics honored a group of 10 outstanding individuals with their
induction into the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame. This group marks the 11th
class in school history and was honored at an induction ceremony before being
recognized at halftime of the men’s basketball win against Ole Miss in Bramlage
Coliseum on Jan. 30. Today’s spotlight is the final one on this year’s Hall of
Fame class. You can check out all of K-State Sports Extra’s Hall of Fame
Spotlights by clicking the links following today’s story.
Max Moss has loved K-State his whole life. From the time he was a young child growing up in Hoxie, Kansas, he always adored the Wildcats.
He was a talented athlete at Hoxie High School, and it wasn’t long before the colleges came calling. However, once the scholarship offers came about, he had some tough decisions to make.
“I grew up in Western Kansas, and from the time I was a small child, my decision was that I wanted to go to K-State,” said Moss with a smile. “Not necessary to be in sports, I just wanted to go here. But I grew up on a farm and we didn’t have a lot of money. KU offered me a full scholarship in football or basketball – it was a tough choice – but my dad convinced me that I should do that.”
Though in his heart wanted K-State, Coach Tex Winter could only offer him a half scholarship with the K-State men’s basketball team. It wasn’t an easy decision, but Moss took his father’s advice and accepted the offer from the University of Kansas.
Moss was ready to be a Jayhawk. His mind was set, until, that is, his breakout senior season in track and field.
“I only had a half scholarship in basketball at K-State, but then I won the state title in the half mile and did well in the state pole vault,” explained Moss. “Coach Ward Haylett gave me a half scholarship for track and field, so now I had a full scholarship to K-State. That really was the turning point and it solved my dilemma with my dad.”
Moss let out a relieved laugh as he reminisced on his decision. Looking back at his time at K-State, he has no doubt today he made the right choice.
During his years as a Wildcat (1961-64), Moss helped K-State earn a pair of Big 8 titles in 1963 and 1964, and, as team captain, he helped lead K-State to the 1964 Final Four. Along with his hard work and success on the basketball court, Moss was just as busy off the court as he pursued his degree in Veterinary Medicine, was a member of the 1964 All-Big 8 Academic and Academic All-American teams with his 3.5 GPA and was even president of his senior class.
From the court to the classroom, Moss was successful in everything he did.
“Often I’d carry over 20 hours of credits, and laboratories didn’t count,” explained Moss. “We traveled a lot, I carried a lot of books with me. Coach Winter understood the need for good education. I was also the chaplain for my fraternity, and I was dating my future wife (Penny Heyl) while carrying those 20 hours and playing basketball full time. It was kind of a blur, but looking back, I really enjoyed it and it was a wonderful experience.”
Just a small-town kid from Western Kansas, Moss’ lifelong love for K-State came full circle on January 29, as he was one of 10 former Wildcat greats inducted into the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame.
“I was very surprised when I found out they has selected me, and I wondered if I was really deserving of this honor because it is very special to be inducted with this class and those that have gone before,” said Moss the day of his induction. “It’s a very special experience. I am very honored by it.”
The induction meant a lot to the entire Moss family as Max’s wife is also a former Wildcat. Penny Moss was a K-State cheerleader and graduated in 1964 with a degree in education. The two met on a blind date during their freshman year in Manhattan, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“I was just thrilled; I really felt like he deserved it and I am very happy for him,” said Penny, who was dressed in in her finest purple before the induction ceremony. “K-State has meant a lot to both of us over the years. It’s a very special place. We just have so many memories from those wonderful years here.”
After his first year competing both on the track and hardwood, Winter offered Moss a full scholarship so he could focus all of his athletic effort on the basketball court. Surrounded by a group hard-working, driven student-athletes, Moss enjoyed the time he spent with his basketball teammates.
“My sophomore year we had an average as a team of like a 3.65 GPA,” said Moss. “So we had a really good group. You had to have some intelligence to play for Tex because he had a very complicated triangle offense that you had to understand and grasp the concept. To have teammates of that quality, good character, very few problems, it was really a nice memory.”
That quality team of good character basketball players went on to become one of the greatest teams in K-State basketball history.
Following his year playing with the Wildcat freshman team, Moss spent three seasons with the varsity squad and helped K-State earn a 60-21 record. In his senior season (1964), Moss played an important role alongside teammates Sammy Robinson, Jeff Simons, Willie Murrell and Rodger Suttner in helping K-State defeat No. 5 Wichita State on their home court in the NCAA Midwest Regional finals en route to the team’s Final Four appearance.
“You realize how difficult it is to get to the Final Four, and, as a matter of fact, it’s been 52 years since we’ve had a team from K-State in the Final Four,” said Moss. “We’ve had some Elite Eights and Sweet 16s but not the Final Four. That in itself gives my team a lot of pride.”
During his three-year varsity career, Moss played in 58 games, averaging 6.9 points and 3.3 rebounds. He averaged 9.1 points his senior season.
Following his time at K-State, Moss began a long, successful career as a practicing veterinarian and has since retired in Wichita, Kansas, with Penny. The two are celebrating 51 years of marriage – a marriage that began at K-State – this year.
See links below for previous K-State Sports Extra Hall of Fame Spotlights: