Guilford legend Kauffman passes away

On July 25, former Guilford College basketball great Robert “Bob” Kauffman passed away at the age of 69 in suburban Atlanta. He was one of the most prestigious and decorated athletes in Guilford history before going on to become a National Basketball Association player, coach and executive for numerous teams.

Kauffman had a phenomenal career here from 1964 to 1968. Before he arrived at Guilford, the team had been unknown in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics ranks. But in the wake of his being drafted third overall to the NBA, the team went on to the top of National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics polls.

Kauffman’s collegiate stats included a 64 percent field goal percentage, 2,570 total points and 1,801 rebounds were extremely impressive. His name resounds throughout Guilford record books, with one of his most impressive feats—scoring an average of 22.7 points per game in his college career—being but one of many listed.

In the 1968 NBA draft, Kauffman was selected third overall by the Seattle Supersonics. He also played with the Chicago Bulls, Buffalo Braves and Atlanta Hawks during his seven-year stint as a professional.

“It’s not hard to make the case that Bob was the greatest Guilford basketball player — and perhaps the greatest Guilford athlete — of all time,” said Doc Searls ‘69, former classmate and supporter of Kauffman, in an email to The Guilfordian.

Not only was he a three-time NBA All-Star, but he also had an amazing year with the Buffalo Braves in 1970–1971, averaging 20.4 points per game and 10.7 rebounds—that being his strongest year in the NBA. Through all his successes as a player and the Detroit Piston’s general manager and coach, he never failed to remember where he had come from.

“Guilford gave Bob a special purpose in life that he handed down to his family and friends,” said Chuck Scott, fellow Hall of Fame member and former teammate of Kauffman, in an email to The Guilfordian. “Prior to his untimely death we had talked about the past 50 years and Guilford was always in the conversation.”

Guilford was a special place for Kauffman to grow and polish his skills, not only in basketball, but in studies as well. He graduated with degree in history.

“With a very heavy heart, we send our love and best wishes to Judy and the family,” said fellow Guilford Hall of Famer M.L. Carr ‘73 in a statement to the Guilford Athletics website. “He, Jerry Steele and his teammates set high standards for Guilford basketball. It was they who inspired us, the 1970 fourth place Quakers and the 1973 National Champs, to go for the proverbial ‘brass ring.”

“He will forever be remembered for his contributions to Guilford College. He will be sorely missed by all of us who got to know him.”

Robert “Bob” Kauffman has passed away, but his legacy as one of the greatest Guilford basketball player of all time will remain fresh in the hearts of many.