Former K-State MBB Letterman Dies at 85

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Ken Mahoney, a famed basketball inventor and Wildcat men's basketball lettermen, passed away Sunday night at the age of 85.

A native of Dorrance, Kan., Mahoney lettered three years at Kansas State from 1946-49 for Hall of Fame head coach Jack Gardner.  His best season came as a junior when he helped the Wildcats to a 22-6 record en route to Big Seven Conference title and the school's first trip to the Final Four.  He received his bachelor's degree from Kansas State in 1950.   

Elected to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in August 2009, Mahoney was one of basketball's most accomplished innovators.  He helped invent the "Toss Back" training device, which is still used to train players at all levels throughout the world.  The Toss Back ball return allowed players to practice hand-eye coordination and to practice on an individual basis. 

Mahoney also went on to develop "breakaway" rims for the NBA to prevent the shattering of backboards created by dunking.  His "snap-back" rims are still used universally today. In addition, he redesigned backboards at the request of NBA and NCAA to its current configuration to prevent players from banging their heads on the bottom of the backboards.    

Mahoney is survived by his wife of 60 years, Dorothy; children, Lucinda Drago and husband Ron of Winston Salem, N.C.; Rosemary Neaderhiser of Solomon, Kan.; Thomas Mahoney and his wife Heddy of Dorrance, Kan.; Anthony "Tony" Mahoney and wife Melissa of Wichita, Kan.; and Annette Mahoney of Bowling Green, Ohio; 12 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

A celebration of the funeral mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Dorrance.  Burial will follow at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery.

Memorial contributions are suggested to the Dorrance Historical Society or St. Joseph's Church Cemetery Fund and may be sent in care of the mortuary.