Lathrop will retire with 954 victories

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Bud Lathrop, whose Raytown South teams won four state high school boys basketball championships, is retiring with a Missouri record 954 victories.

Lathrop had talked of calling it quits after a three week-suspension in December 2004 over use of foul language.

"Sometimes you can win too much," he said. "You make people jealous. You make people envious. I think I did it right. I'm going to kiss it goodbye."

Lathrop coached for 48 years, all but three of them in suburban Kansas City's Raytown South School District. This season his team was 23-4, ending with a loss to Lee's Summit North in a district title game last month.

Lathrop, 69, has a 954-300 career record. He took teams to the state tournament 10 times, winning championships in 1970, 1972, 1977 and 1990. Twenty-three of his players have been named to all-state teams, and more than 200 went to college on basketball scholarships.

"I'm happy that he's made a decision he's comfortable with," Sara Stewart, the Raytown South athletic director. "I believe right now he's just interested in enjoying himself."

Lathrop was suspended for five days in 2003 after a Kansas City Star reporter saw him use a wooden paddle on several players who missed free throws during practice. He said Wednesday that he just gave the players a "little tap" with a pingpong paddle and that the players thought it was funny.

Jevon Crudup, who played for Lathrop and later at Missouri, had become one of his assistants by then, and he was fired around that time after a parent taped him yelling at his sophomore players. Crudup, who is black, complained that he was treated differently than white coaches caught swearing and filed a lawsuit. A Jackson County jury recently awarded him $50,000 in actual damages and $250,000 in punitive damages.

Lathrop was suspended again in December 2004 after being accused of using profanity. While acknowledging use of foul language, he said he never cursed at a player. At the time, he said he would retire following the three-week suspension but later changed his mind.

Lathrop's son, Brad, who coached and taught with his father for eight years at Raytown South, thought there might be a 50-50 chance for him to change his mind again, noting that three starters will return next season.

"He's got the ingredients for a great team next year," said the younger Lathrop, who also played for his father. "It will be hard for him to walk away from three starters."

Lathrop came to Raytown South when the school opened in 1961 after coaching two seasons in Mound City and one in Fulton.

"None of this happened by accident," he said of his coaching success. "Kids being taken care of by their coach -- that's why I won. I cared about every one of the kids I coached."

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