Athlete–Those who witnessed the Shrine Bowl after the 1971 graduation of this young man from Aurora High School in 1971, may well believe he was the greatest Nebraska high school football player ever. He was dominating, not only in that all-star setting but in each and every game he played. Sizable at 6’3” and 225 pounds, he was a formidable fullback and yet had surprising speed and quickness on the basketball court, scoring 45 points in a great game played against Fairbury in the state tournament. He was all-state in both sports, and athlete of the year as a senior. While in high school, he had discus throws of record-breaking distance, Truly a fine athlete for all seasons and all sports, and perhaps the best Nebraska has had.
Now here’s the other half of the story: One of Nebraska’s greatest athletes became one of the most respected basketball coaches in the nation. In 12 seasons as head coach of the University of Nebraska Kearney, he posted a 245-105 record, a winning percentage of 70 percent.
Kropp is the only player in UNK history to average a double double over his career (20.7 ppg, 11.2 rpg). As a senior, Kropp tallied 51 points in a win over Central Missouri State, still a record for points in a game by a Loper. During his career, Kropp guided the Lopers to a 67-30 record.
After completing his collegiate career, he was drafted in the eighth round by the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, in the third round by the ABA’s Denver Nuggets, and in the third round by the NBA’s Washington Bullets. He signed with the Bullets and was traded to the Chicago Bulls after his rookie season. He completed his second season with Chicago but was waived after one game of his third season in the NBA. He culminated his playing career by playing in Belgium from 1979-1983.
Sports Illustrated named him one of Nebraska’s 50 greatest athletes of the 20th century. He was been as Nebraska’s Greatest Athlete for the decade of 1970-1980, and has been inducted into both the UNK and the Nebraska Football Halls of Fame. He is also a member of the NAIA Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Nebraska High School Hall of Fame in 1995.