IOWA CITY, Iowa — Former University of Iowa All-American Chuck Darling has passed away at the age of 91 in Colorado.
Darling was a two-sport star for the Hawkeyes, earning three letters in basketball (1950-52) and two in track (1950-51). Born in Denison, Iowa, Darling is one of three players in program annals to be a consensus first-team All-American, earning the distinction as a senior in 1952. A two-time all-conference selection, Darling led the Hawkeyes to second (1952) and third place (1951) Big Ten finishes as an upperclassman.
In addition to rewriting the record books on the court, Darling excelled in the classroom. He served as Liberal Arts Senior Class President and was a Phi Beta Kappa member (national honorary scholarship society).
Darling led the Hawkeyes in scoring in back-to-back seasons in 1951 (16.3 ppg) and 1952 (25.5 ppg), including leading the Big Ten in points per game as a senior. Darling led the team to 19 wins his senior season, the most single season victories by an Iowa team at that time. His 25.5 points per game average is the third highest scoring average in program history behind John Johnson (27.9 ppg in 1970) and Fred Brown (27.6 ppg in 1971).
Darling posted two of the top three single game rebounding performances in program history. In his final game as a Hawkeye versus Wisconsin on March 3, 1952, he pulled down a school-record 30 rebounds, a total that also ties for second most in Big Ten history. Darling averaged a staggering 17.6 rebounds in 22 games as a junior, a season average that is tops in school history.
“Our deepest condolences go out to the Darling family,” said Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery. “Chuck was a trailblazer for University of Iowa student-athletes. He performed at the highest level on the basketball court and achieved excellence academically. Chuck was one of country’s best players in the 1950’s, earning All-America honors and becoming an Olympic gold medalist. He will be missed by everyone in the Hawkeye family.”
He is also tied for second in school history with 25 boards against Purdue on Jan. 6, 1951. Darling ranks in the top five for single-game field goal attempts (32 versus Indiana on Jan. 21, 1952) and free throws made (16 versus Minnesota on Jan. 19, 1952).
In addition to earning All-America accolades in 1952, Darling was awarded the Chicago Tribune Silver Trophy presented to the top men’s basketball player in the Big Ten Conference, was recognized as the Big Ten Medal of Honor winner, as well as being recognized as the team’s Most Valuable Player.
Darling, a UI Varsity Club Hall of Fame inductee, ranks eighth in program history in career scoring average at 17.4 points per game (1,094 points in 63 games).
Following graduation, Darling was drafted by the Rochester Royals with the eighth overall pick of the 1952 NBA Draft. He also earned a Gold Medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, playing on the same team as Hall of Famers Bill Russell and K.C. Jones, and Iowa All-American Carl Cain, to name a few.
A Memorial Celebration of Life Service is pending.