Knute Rockne killed in plane crash

Updated: October 19, 2006, 2:29 PM ET
By Larry Schwartz | Special to

March 31, 1931

Knute Rockne, a brilliant innovator as the Notre Dame football coach, was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles, where he was to appear in a football movie. But Rockne never makes it.

His 10-passenger Trans-Continental & Western Airways plane takes off from Kansas City, leaving 45 minutes late after waiting for mail connections. Before it reaches Wichita, a wing rips loose from the plane, which crashes into a pasture near Bazaar, Kansas. Rockne and the seven others on board are killed.

Rockne had been a star end for Notre Dame, one of the first outstanding receivers in the country. After graduating in 1914, he became an assistant coach for the Irish, and in 1918 he became the head coach. He had five undefeated seasons, including his last two, and won three consensus national titles in 13 seasons. His winning percentage of .881 (105-12-5) remains the best in Division I-A history. Knute Rockne was 43.