Bud Kennedy
Bud Kennedy
Full Name:  Jesse Kennard Kennedy
     Born:  April 22, 1907 in Lawrence, Ks
     Died:  June 24, 1966 in Tallahassee, Fl

FSU Career
Coaches & Administrators


Elected into the FSU Hall of Fame in 1977
Men's basketball head coach J.K. "Bud" Kennedy guided the Seminole program in the transition from a limited program to major college status. He directed the FSU basketball team from the 1948-49 campaign through 1965-66, compiling a record of 237 wins and 208 losses. His finest season was 1954-55 when FSU was 22-4. His contributions to FSU's program continued long after his death following the 1965-66 season as one of his former players, Hugh Durham, became the next Seminole head coach and took the program to the 1972 national title game.

J.K. "Bud" Kennedy: a personal glimpse
By Bill Bunker, FSU Sports Information Director

Florida State Basketball Coach J.K. "Bud" Kennedy died of cancer June 24, 1966. With his passing an era ended, and a legend began.

Kennedy, 59, coached at Florida State for 18 years. His teams compiled a record of 234 victories and 208 defeats.

He appeared on the Florida State athletic scene shortly after the school became co-educational in 1947. As a coach he quickly advanced the Seminoles into the top echelon of small-college basketball, but soon had his teams playing on even terms with a major schedule.

His birthplace was Lawrence, Kansas, and in the year of his birth, his father, A.R. "Bert" Kennedy, coached the University of Kansas football team to its only undefeated season. Bud was an athlete at Kansas, Baker and Kansas State Teachers College.

He had a basketball background that few could match. While at Kansas he became a personal friend of Dr. James A. Naismith, the game's founder who was a physical education instructor there at the time. He gained wide experience in teaching and coaching in the Midwest and during a three-year navy hitch in WW II before coming to Florida State as athletic business manager and assistant basketball coach in January of 1948. He became head coach the following year.

By 1954-55 Kennedy fielded a team that had a 22-4 record. In 1956-57 he attacked Florida State's first big-time schedule, moved into Tully Gym, and first met rival Florida.

The high point of his career came on December 3, 1960 when his Seminoles defeated Kentucky in Lexington, 63-58. His 200th victory as Florida State coach came January 29, 1964, when the Seminoles defeated Alabama, 95-77.

However vital and illuminating statistics may be, the essence of Bud Kennedy is found in the relationships he formed and the friends he made.

He was a coach by strict definition, one of whom it can honestly be said: He cared more for his players than he did for points on the scoreboard. He demanded hard work and loyalty, and returned an equal measure of both.

His players were real to him, and he adopted a paternal attitude towards his boys which transcended their college careers. Each year his former players received a thick packet of mimeographed material which contained information - names, addresses, career and family notes on every basketball player and student manager who had ever served at Florida State under Kennedy.

The door to his home was open at all hours to friends, coaches and players, and many a game was previewed and reviewed on his office table, which incidentally, was a scaled model of a basketball court.

On the court he was a competitor, and no one relished the uplift of victory or felt the despair of defeat more sharply. He battled with every tool at his command; and several officials will remember the sting of Kennedy's tongue, and the vigorous shake of his white-thatched head. However, he never carried the game off the floor, and Seminole opponents could always expect praise regardless of the score.

His program was an ambitious one. He would play anyone, anywhere, as long as he felt the cause of Florida State basketball was being advanced. His record would doubtless have been better had he packed his schedule with easy teams, but Kennedy envisioned Florida State as a major basketball power, and his schedules reflected this attitude.

His Seminole teams were charter members of six major holiday tournaments which led one writer to call him "The Godfather of Tournament Basketball." It was in 1964 that his Seminoles turned good-will ambassadors on a trip to Barranquilla, Columbia to open a new coliseum there. He was a prime mover and organizer behind the Tampa Invitational Tournament, inaugurated last year.

The press and general public found him congenial and cooperative. He was tactful and informative, yet bluntly honest in getting his point across. There was never any doubt that Bud Kennedy's life was basketball, specifically, Florida State basketball.

Despite his loyalty to Florida State, Kennedy was always ready to lend a hand in the interest of basketball. Having traveled the hard road to recognition for his team, he was willing to help another along that same road.

He entered into a home and home agreement with Jacksonville University, a young school striving for basketball prominence and anxious to play a major college schedule. Last year before the game in Jacksonville's coliseum, the newly-formed Dolphin Century Club presented Bud with its first basketball recognition plaque in appreciation of Kennedy's efforts to improve the sport in Florida and the South.

Jacksonville University, coached by Kennedy protege Joe Williams, defeated the Seminoles for the first time in history that night. With typical good humor, Kennedy remarked after the game:

"They knew they were going to beat me, so they gave me a plaque before the game - just to make me feel good about coming to Jacksonville."

Loyalty to Bud Kennedy and his efforts on basketball's behalf found expression in other ways. The Seminole Tipoff Club, an organization for promotion of Florida State basketball, was formed on that basis.

But Bud Kennedy was Florida State basketball's best promoter, its greatest ambassador. His vision, for which he worked tirelessly, was of a great coliseum for the Seminoles. Although he won't see it, it will surely be built one day, and his efforts in its behalf will be remembered.

After all the words are said, perhaps the most succinct and appropriate came from Darrell Simmons in the Jacksonville Journal when he wrote:

"He spent 18 years building basketball and making friends for FSU. He lost some basketball games. I doubt if he ever lost a friend."

This is the tradition left to Florida State University by Bud Kennedy.

FSU Statistics