Gene Budig, right, whose career included stints as president of baseball’s American League and chancellor at KU, talks with Royals vice president George Brett before a spring training game in 1996 in Florida. Budig died Tuesday.
The final resting place for former University of Kansas Chancellor and Major League Baseball American League president Gene Budig will be Pioneer Cemetery on KU’s West campus, Budig’s son, Chris, told The Star.
“He loved KU. We all do,” Chris Budig said of the Budig family in a direct message on Facebook.
There is no date set for a memorial service in Lawrence or elsewhere because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Gene Budig and his wife, Gretchen, have lived in Isle of Palms, South Carolina for many years.
The Budig family will keep the media informed on any developments.
“We are all touched by the outpouring of love and admiration from all the places dad worked. KU is indeed special,” Chris Budig said.
Gene Budig, who was chancellor at KU from 1981 to ‘94 also was president of Illinois State University (1973-77) and president of West Virginia University (1977-81). He was AL President from 1994 to 2000. He died Tuesday at the age of 81.
Since 2007, he’d served as part-owner of the Charleston (South Carolina) RiverDogs minor-league baseball team.
The Star this week published a story in which former KU basketball coach Larry Brown, who was hired at KU by Budig and athletic director Monte Johnson, offered his memories of the former KU Chancellor. The Associated Press has contacted former KU coach Roy Williams, who also was hired by Budig and athletic director Bob Frederick.
“He (Budig) was the guy that gave Roy Williams a chance,” Williams told The Associated Press. “He made it OK for the athletic director to hire this no-name assistant coach from North Carolina as the head basketball coach at the University of Kansas.
“Every day I understand if he hadn’t been tough enough and comfortable enough, Roy Williams may never have gotten a start to be a head coach in college basketball,” Williams said, referring to Budig.
Both Brown and Williams remained close with Budig.
Williams, who has a beach house in South Carolina, in fact met with Budig and others in the sports world for breakfast regularly in Charleston.
“Chancellor Budig, I still call him chancellor. I never called him Gene a single time in my entire life. It was out of respect. I really respected the man, the person who he was,” Williams told the AP.
“He was a a kind man, but a strong man,” Williams added. “He was a friend, he was a mentor. He was a good, good man.”
Hall of Fame lauds Budig
The Baseball Hall of Fame issued a statement to MLB.com regarding Budig.
“We deeply mourn the passing of Gene Budig, a leading baseball executive who, for decades, helped to guide the sport,” the Baseball Hall of Fame said. “As a member of the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors during his tenure as American League President, he had a demonstrated passion for our educational mission and provided valuable insights that continue to impact the Hall of Fame to this day. On behalf of the entire Board of Directors and Staff, we extend our sympathies to the Budig family.”
Yankees issue statement
New York Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said to mlb.com: “Dr. Budig was a cherished friend of our family and someone my father (George Steinbrenner) respected immensely for his character, intellect and profound career accomplishments in higher education.
“Over the last decade, I had the opportunity to work with him in establishing and growing the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, and quickly discovered why my father held him in such high regard. We personally share deeply in his loss and will always be grateful for his efforts in creating a permanent landmark for the Yankees, New York City and student-athletes from around the country.”
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Gary Bedore covers all aspects of Kansas basketball for The Star — the current team as well as former players and coaches and recruiting. He attended KU and was born and raised in Chicago, as well as Lisle, Ill.