Former IU player, coach Lou Watson dies at 88

Lou Watson served as honorary captain at an IU game in 2009. (IU photo)

Former Indiana University player and coach Lou Watson passed away Thursday, the university announced Friday.

Watson, 88, won four letters in basketball and two in baseball while at IU. He was named first team All-Big Ten and All-American in 1950, ending his career as Indiana's all-time leading scorer. He was also named team MVP in 1949 and 1950.

"Lou Watson was a part of so many of the historic moments of Indiana basketball and accomplished so many great things during his Hall of Fame career," said IU basketball coach Tom Crean. "My first meeting with him came at his home in Ellettsville and it was a great afternoon.   It was a tremendous honor to have him visit our Elite Camp in 2009 with so many of the other former greats in attendance that afternoon.   To see him return later that year with his family to serve as an honorary captain and to hear that ovation he received when he was introduced, I know it made his heart proud. Those were moments that I will never forget and his picture receiving the game ball with his grandsons has been displayed proudly in our locker room since that day."

Watson coached the freshman basketball team at IU in 1951, 1952, 1956 and 1957, then moved to the varsity team in 1958. He was the head coach of the Hoosiers from 1966-71, leading IU to a Big Ten co-championship in 1967. He also served as a special assistant to the athletic director and Associate Director of Athletics before retiring in 1987.

"Lou Watson was a true Hall of Fame Hoosier in every sense of the word.  His association to the University and the athletic program spanned over five decades first as a standout baseball and basketball player in the late 1940's and early 1950's, second as a coach for the men's basketball program from the 1950's until the early 1970's and finally as an administrator for the program until 1987.  It was great to see him back in 2009 as an honorary coach.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family," said IU Athletic Director Fred Glass.

Watson played on the school's only regular season Big Ten Championship baseball team in 1948. The Jeffersonville, Indiana native was inducted into the IU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989.