Larry Kramer, the legendary former Austin College football coach who guided the Kangaroos to the 1981 NAIA National Championship, has passed away at the age of 71. Kramer was a beloved figure in the Austin College community, having helmed the 'Roos from 1973-1982.
Kramer came to Austin College following a two year stint at Southern Oregon, and compiled a record of 50-43-6 in Sherman. His 50 wins are still the second highest win total of any head football coach in Austin College history. During the historic 1981 season, Kramer led the 'Roos to a record of 11-1-1, and over his final four seasons in Sherman he compiled a record of 35-7-1. He was named the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association Coach of the Year in both 1979 and 1981.
A fierce but humble competitor and coach, Kramer was quick to credit his players above himself for the success on the field, saying of his 1981 championship team, "Those kids made a heck of a coach out of me." Kramer was the runner-up for the NAIA National Coach of the Year that season.
Kramer left Austin College to take the head coaching position at Emporia State University in Kansas, where he coached from 1983-1994 and compiled a record of 71-54-0. While at Emporia State, Kramer coached his team to an appearance in the 1989 NAIA National Championship game.
Over the course of his 28 year career as a head coach, he amassed a record of 127-120-5, and finished out his career as an assistant coach working with the offensive line under Bill Snyder at Kansas State from 1995-1997. Snyder had previously served as an assistant to Kramer at Austin College in 1974 and 1975.
In addition to his outstanding coaching career, Kramer was a standout football player at the University of Nebraska, where he played left tackle as a member of the "Fearsome Foursome" and earned numerous accolades during his career. As an illustration of how dominant he was on the offensive line, in 1964 Kramer was the only consensus Kodak All-American on a team that also included NFL Hall of Famers Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus.
Kramer was drafted by the Baltimore Colts prior to his senior season at Nebraska, and later signed a free agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings before moving into the world of coaching at McCook Junior College from 1966-1970, and then taking on the head coaching job at Southern Oregon from 1970-1972.
In 2003, Austin College honored Kramer as the seventh recipient of the prestigious Coach Joe Spencer Award for Meritorious Service and Lifetime Achievement in recognition of his outstanding achievements both on and off the field.
The Austin College community is greatly saddened by Coach Kramer's passing, and extends its deepest sympathies to the family of this Kangaroo legend.
UPDATE: Visitation will be held on Saturday, February 1 at 1:00 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Emporia, Kansas with the funeral to follow at 2:00 p.m. There will be a celebration immediately following the funeral with the venue to be announced within the next few days. The family and those close to Coach Kramer would like to keep the dress informal. The family would like former players or coaches who played for or worked with Coach Kramer to wear their team colors, with jerseys or clothing with team logos preferable, to celebrate his legacy on the football field.
There is currently some discussion about a memorial service to be held in Sherman at a later date.
Austin College athletic teams participate as a member of the NCAA Division III and the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.
About Austin College
Austin College is a leading national independent liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas. Founded in 1849, making it the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original charter and name, the college is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA). Recognized nationally for academic excellence in the areas of international education, pre-professional training, and leadership studies, Austin College is one of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope's influential book Colleges that Change Lives.