LAWRENCE — Max Falkenstien, a 60-year constant of both Kansas football and men's basketball broadcasts, died Monday afternoon. He was 95.
Falkenstien was the voice of the Jayhawks from his first assignment in 1946 until his final call in 2006. KU made the announcement of Falkenstien's death in a Monday evening news release.
“I’ve known Max since 1985, and back then, even being young in the profession, I quickly realized that Max was as big a part of the great history of KU basketball and football as the players and coaches were," said KU basketball coach Bill Self. "He was an absolute joy to be around, and he will be remembered as an absolute treasure. He was loved by everyone. His personal touch made every fan, player, coach and administrator feel they were part of the KU family. I hope Max realized the positive impact he had on KU and everyone connected with it.
"He’ll be missed, but his legacy will never be forgotten.”
The only non-player to have a jersey — No. 60, fittingly — retired and hanging at Allen Fieldhouse, Falkenstien was honored by both the College Football Hall of Fame (Chris Shenkel Award, 1996) and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame (Curt Gowdy Award, 2004). He is a member of both the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame and the State of Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.
“I spent a lot of time with Max — doing radio shows in Topeka, traveling to games — and I saw how Max impacted so many people in a positive way. He was one of a kind," said former KU basketball coach Larry Brown, who guided the Jayhawks from 1983-88. "When I got the job at Kansas, coach (Dean) Smith told me about all the great people at KU, the love they had for the school and for basketball. When you talk about those great people, and everyone connected with all that tradition, Max is one of the first people you think about.”
Falkenstien is arguably most known for the period in which he served as color commentator alongside Bob Davis, who assumed play-by-play duties in 1984. Former KU football coach Mark Mangino called the pair "one of the greatest college broadcast teams ever."
"Max was a member of the greatest generation," said Davis, a Topeka native. "A pioneer sports play-by-play broadcaster in Lawrence and Topeka, and just a fun guy to be around. In the years we worked and traveled together we spent much of our time laughing. He once said we should have been married. In all these years I don’t think we’d ever had an argument, so I guess we couldn’t have been married!
"We had some great times together. I loved him.”
Falkenstien is survived by his wife of 70 years, Isobel; his son, Kurt; his daughter, Jane; three grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.