|Sports||Football, Track & Field, Basketball|
Tom Kropp had just completed the 1971 Shrine Bowl when event officials came into the locker room. They had a dilemma. Kropp had won offensive MVP. He'd also been defensive MVP. He could accept only one.
Kropp, who reached the national finals of the Punt, Pass and Kick competition at 13, had read about Class A athletes throughout his time at Aurora High School. He wondered if he could play at that level. That was the day he realized there was no doubt he could. So did others.
Former Nebraska football player and Rummel High coach Dallas Dyer called Kropp "the finest high school football player I’ve ever seen."
Kropp went on to Kearney State, where he was an NAIA All-American in football and basketball. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL), the Denver Nuggets (ABA) and the Washington Bullets (NBA). He chose basketball and played two NBA seasons before taking his skills to Europe.
The 6-foot-3 son of legendary basketball coach Bill Kropp is best remembered for his pre-professional accolades. Kropp, who contributed to six state team championships in three sports at Aurora, threw a no-hitter in the state junior Legion baseball tournament. He won the shot put at state with a toss of 56 feet, 6 3/4 inches and once heaved the discus 182-10.
He once had 41 points at halftime of a high school basketball game and averaged 33 points and 23 rebounds his senior year. He rushed for 1,015 yards his senior season in football. He scored 1,884 points for the Antelopes in basketball.
In 2015, the 62-year-old Kropp — the longtime basketball coach at the University of Nebraska at Kearney — announced his retirement after 25 years.
"Tom Kropp is a legendary player and coach for UNK," said Paul Plinske, the school's athletic director. "He is an even better person, so accepting his retirement makes this a bittersweet time in the history of our athletic department."
Kropp finished his coaching career at UNK with a record of 482-245.
Played for: Aurora High, Kearney State (football and basketball), Washington Bullets, Chicago Bulls and four European teams
Best moment as an athlete: Kropp chose a team accomplishment — Aurora avenged a regular-season loss to top-ranked Central City to advance to the Class B State Basketball Tournament when Kropp was a senior.
Best athlete from Nebraska played with or against: Lincoln Northeast's Maury Damkroger
At Kearney State: 1,884 points, 1,022 rebounds
Kropp was No. 9 in the inaugural Nebraska 100 list in 2005. See more about the 2005 list »