Former K-State great Tex Winter dies at 96

(WIBW) - One of Kansas State's all-time greats passed away Wednesday night.

Kansas State Athletics announced that former men's basketball coach Tex Winter died at the age of 96. GoPowercat.com first reported the news.

“Today is a sad day for not only Kansas State University but also the entire basketball world with the passing of Coach Winter," Kansas State athletic director Gene Taylor said in a news release. "He transformed the game of basketball at all levels and will always remain an integral piece of our rich basketball tradition here at K-State."

Current coach Bruce Weber echoed those thoughts.

“We are saddened by the passing of such a legendary coach in Fred “Tex” Winter, who touched nearly every level of basketball," Weber said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Nancy, his children, Brian, Chris and Russ, and grandchildren during this difficult time.”

Winter coached the Wildcats for 15 seasons. He compiled a record of 261-118, leading Kansas State to two Final Four appearances (1959 and 1964) in six NCAA Tournament trips. K-State also took home eight Big Seven/Big Eight Conference titles during Winter's tenure, which is the most in program history.

He made other college head coaching stops at Marquette, Washington, Northwestern, and Long Beach State. Winter also made an impactful mark as a professional basketball coach.

As an innovator of the "Triangle Offense," he was an assistant to Phil Jackson with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. He helped the two win a combined 11 NBA championships.

"Tex Winter was a basketball legend and perhaps the finest fundamental teacher in the history of our game," Chicago Bulls Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson said in a statement. "He was an innovator who had high standards for how basketball should be played and approached everyday.

"Those of us who were lucky enough to play for him will always respect his devotion to the game of basketball. His contributions to the Bulls organization will always be remembered."

K.C. Johnson, who covers the Bulls for the Chicago Tribune, tweeted on Wednesday night that basketball legend Michael Jordan emailed his thoughts on Winter to the newspaper.

"I learned so much from Coach Winter," Jordan told the Tribune. "He was a pioneer and a true student of the game. His triangle offense was a huge part of our six championships with the Bulls. He was a tireless worker.

"Tex was always focused on details and preparation and a great teacher. I was lucky to play for him. My condolences to his family."

“Tex helped lead the team to four NBA Championships and was a mentor to many of our coaches and players," Lakers CEO and Controlling Owner Jeanie Buss said in a statement. "In addition to his numerous contributions to the game of basketball, Tex was a wonderful man and he will be dearly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Winter family.”

Winter is a multiple Hall of Fame inductee: the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and Kansas and Kansas State University Sports Halls of Fame.