Basketball: Ken Mink Beats Father Time

by Suzie Raven

Whoever said you’re only as young as you feel must’ve had Ken Mink in mind. At the age of 73, he played 15 minutes over the course of seven college basketball games and scored five points for Roane State Community College in Tennessee.

It’s the second time he played college basketball, and the second time his career ended too soon.

In 1956, Mink was expelled from Lees Junior College in Kentucky after being wrongly accused of spraying shaving cream all over his coach’s office . Shaving cream shouldn’t be serious enough to warrant expulsion, but that obviously can’t be changed now.

Maybe the expulsion wasn't completely a bad thing. If he wasn’t expelled, he wouldn’t have gone back to school. He wouldn’t have set a record for being the oldest person to score in a college basketball game.

Still, it’s disappointing that the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) declared him ineligible because of an administrative hitch. Mink began last fall with 12 credits, the minimum required by the NJCAA. He was doing poorly in Spanish, so coach Randy Nesbit suggested that Mink add another class. Nothing available at Roane State fit his schedule, so he enrolled in a sociology course through Strayer University.

Mink bombed Spanish but earned a B in the Strayer class giving him qualifying grades in 12 credits. The NJCAA declared him ineligible anyway, saying he didn’t receive proper permission before enrolling at Strayer. Mink and Roane State appealed the decision, but were denied with only four games left in the season.

Mink has since said that he’s not trying to regain his eligibility because he’s happy that he accomplished his dream of playing another season of college basketball.

"This was just a one-time thing. I reached my goals. I've been able to show that age is not necessarily the determinant factor in what you can do in life," he said.

Mink’s attitude is just as impressive as the fact that at 73, he is in good enough shape to play college basketball. Most 20 year olds aren’t in good enough shape to play college hoops. I love Mink’s story, but I can’t help but wish the NJCAA let him play longer.

(The photo of Ken Mink at the free throw line for Roane State Community College was part of a press release from the school in 2008 and therefore is in the public domain. To see a video about Mink prepared by The Knoxville News Sentinel, please check below.)

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