Bill Menke

Photo: IU Athletics

Bill Menke Biography

William “Bill” Charles Menke was a former Indiana University basketball player that was part of the 1940 NCAA Championship team coached by head coach Branch McCracken. The Huntingburg, Indiana native played as a center for the Indiana Hoosiers. He and his brother Bob Menke were both part of the 1940 NCAA Championship team. In 1945, Bill Menke died in a plane crash while serving for the United States Navy during World War II.

  • Name: William “Bill” Charles Menke
  • Position: Center
  • Nationality: USA
  • Birthday: October 16, 1918
  • Death: January 7, 1945 (Age: 26)
  • Hometown: Huntingburg, Indiana
  • High School: Huntingburg High School (Huntingburg, Indiana), Kemper Military School (Boonville, Missouri)
  • Height: 6’3″ (191 cm)
  • Seasons: 3 (1938-1939, 1939-1940, 1940-1941)
  • Jersey: #23, #35

Awards and Accolades

  • Third Team All-American (1940)
  • NCAA Champion (1940)
  • Outstanding Senior by Sigma Delta Chi (1941)
  • Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame (Inducted: 1988)
  • Indiana University Athletics Hall of Fame (Inducted: 2011)

Bill Menke Seasons with the Hoosiers

1938-1939 Indiana Basketball Season
Branch McCracken (1st Season)
17-3 (9-3 Big Ten)
🥈 2nd Place Big Ten

1939-1940 Indiana Basketball Season
Branch McCracken (2nd Season)
20-3 (9-3 Big Ten)
🥈 2nd Place Big Ten
🏆 NCAA Champions
1940-1941 Indiana Basketball Season
Branch McCracken (3rd Season)
17-3 (10-2 Big Ten)
🥈 2nd Place Big Ten

Bill Menke High School Career

Bill Menke was the leading scorer for Huntingburg High School during his final two years. He led the team to a sectional title over their rival team Jasper High School during his junior year. During his final season, Menke’s team had a final record of 20-4, but lost to Jasper with a final score of 17-16.

Bill Menke Indiana University Career

Photo: IU Archives

Bill Menke enrolled at Indiana University in 1937 as a freshman and he was recruited by head coach Branch McCracken. At Indiana University, Menke would go on to be a staple player. In 1939, Bill Menke’s 31-percent led the Hoosiers, considering Indiana had five players that shot below 20-percent.

At the center position, Bill Menke was used as the big man on the floor and he was known for his ability to shoot the ball one-handed, which made him difficult to guard by opposing players.

By the time he finished his career, he scored a total of 530 points, which set the new Indiana University career scoring record set by his then-head coach Branch McCracken when Branch was a player at Indiana University.

Bob and Bill Menke; Photo: IU Archives

During Bill Menke’s senior year, he had the opportunity to share the 1940 NCAA Championship title with his younger brother Bob Menke. Bob Menke was named All-NCAA Tournament in 1940.

Photo: IU Archives

In February of 1941, Bill Menke received an award from Sigma Delta Chi for being the most Outstanding Senior. He was recognized by Professor Stempel with a key presentation.

Bill Menke’s Death

On January 7, 1945, Bill Menke passed away while serving in the United States Navy. He died in a plane crash during World War II.

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Contributor: Rob Jiang