WSU's "Mr. Banks" Loses Battle With Cancer

By: Wichita State Email
By: Wichita State Email

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April 6, 2012

Mr. Roland Banks, -Mr. B-, well-known for his connection with Wichita State student-athletes as a 35-year member of the athletics department, died Thursday after a long battle with cancer.

"Shocker Athletics, Wichita State University, and this community lost a great soul in the passing of Mr. B," said WSU Director of Athletics Eric Sexton. "His spirit will live on forever in the 1,000s of lives he touched and through the student-athletes he mentored over his career. We will forever be grateful to him for his service and strength he provided us. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this sorrowful time."

Mr. Banks joined the athletic department on the maintenance staff in 1974, and supervised the department's equipment operation from 1976-2009. He was given additional responsibilities of coordinating outside and university events in Cessna Stadium in August, 1988. In September, 1998, Banks was given the title of Special Assistant to the Athletics Director.

He was also involved in the management of home events, including duties in the areas of set-up, security and clean-up. In his role as equipment manager, Banks was responsible for supervising and operating the athletics equipment supply rooms, locker rooms and related facilities.

He was also in charge of the issuance, custody, repair and ordering of equipment and uniforms for all Shocker athletic teams. In his position, he became integral in helping to maintain relationships with WSU's former student-athletes.

A Bender of Twigs recognized for his first 25 years of service to the University, he also received the President's Award for Distinguished Service in 1995 for his work at the university.

In addition, Mr. Banks was one of the few university employees who was neither an athlete nor a coach to be inducted into the Shocker Sports Hall of Fame, an honor bestowed upon him in 2000.

The WSU Alumni Association presented him with the Laura Cross Distinguished Service Award in 2004.

In 2006, he was inducted into the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame, and was introduced at the ceremony by former WSU student-athlete and NFL veteran Randy Jackson.

Also in 2006, he was inducted into the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame as an Award of Merit recipient for his service to WSU as a member of The Valley.

The Roland Banks Honorary Endowed Scholarship was established in 2009 by Kevin and Andrea Clark to recognize the impact its namesake had on the Wichita State University Athletics Department.

In Oct. 2009, he was recognized by KGSO the Magazine as one of the Top 40 Most Influential People in Wichita Sports for his connection as a mentor to former WSU student-athletes.

Mr. Banks retired from WSU in the fall of 2009 after 35 years in the Athletic Department.
Banks, 73, retired veteran in the United States Air Force, is survived by his wife, Lydia; son, Roland; and daughter Carla.

Funeral services are pending.


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