Ken LaRose: Bulldog for Life

KAYLIN PELLEGRINI | STAFF REPORTER

It is all about relationships for Ken LaRose.

A man referred to as “personal” by all who know him, LaRose is a Butler University alum and former football team captain from 1979. More recently, he was named Butler University’s associate athletic director for development on March 1, 2013. He also served as Butler’s head football coach from 1992-2001, and was inducted into the Butler Athletics Hall of Fame.

LaRose has seen many changes throughout his time at Butler, but his focus on building relationships has remained the same.  

“Butler was good back in the 70’s but it’s even better in the 2014’s,” LaRose said. 

When he was a student, Residential College was just a big empty field, there was no Health and Recreation Complex and Greek recruitment was held at the beginning of the year.

“I lived in the dorm for one week during orientation and rush, and then after that I packed up my bags and moved next door to the Sigma Chi house,” LaRose said. “That was fun. I made a lot of friends there at the Sigma Chi house.” 

Robert Bartolomeo was also a brother of Sigma Chi, played football and coached with LaRose. 

“Kenny was a quiet guy coming out of Moeller [High School] and a very, very good football player and a good student,” Bartolomeo said. “He did a great job of adjusting to Butler. He’s a great guy, very easy going, very easy to talk to, a guy that made a lot of friends quickly.”

LaRose carried his people skills over to coaching. 

After graduating from Butler in 1980, he took an offensive line coaching job at an Indianapolis high school. 

Four years later, LaRose was contacted by one of his former college coaches, Bill Lynch. An assistant coaching position had opened up with the Butler football program. 

“I hesitated about two minutes and thought it over and said yes I’d love to come back to Butler,” LaRose said.

Lynch became the head coach a few years after hiring LaRose. 

“We coached together for five years and we’ve stayed very good friends ever since,” Lynch said.

From the start, players were naturally drawn to LaRose. 

“Ken is such a good person and develops relationships with everybody he comes in contact with develops really solid relationships,” Lynch said. 

“He’s a very personable, very sincere guy, and I think student-athletes pick up on a coach that has those qualities.” 

Right away, Lynch noticed the bonds that LaRose formed with his players. 

“He always had great relationships with his players because they could trust him and he was always honest with him, but also cared about them, how they were doing in school and certainly what they were doing after they left school,” he said.

Jim McGrath is Butler’s sports information director, and has worked with and around LaRose for the past three decades. 

“He never met a person he didn’t like and everyone is a friend and he treats everybody like that,” McGrath said. “As a coach, he was like that, as an assistant coach dealing with players and dealing with the public, as a head coach he was like that, and I think the players really liked playing for him.” 

Just this past weekend, LaRose was able to reunite with some of his former players at the Butler vs. Youngstown State game in Ohio. 

“Of players that have graduated and gone on, when they come back to see him, it’s that immediate bond and friendship that just shows through,” McGrath said. “He’s just got that kind of a personality that he’s a guy you like to be around.”  

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