John E. Erickson (Wisconsin politician)

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John Erickson was a former general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team and the losing Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Wisconsin in 1970.


Erickson grew up in Rockford, Illinois. He played on the Rockford East High School basketball and tennis teams. Erickson graduated from college in 1949 after being a Little All-American basketball player for Beloit College.[citation needed] He was the college's first player to score over 1000 points in a career that spanned three full seasons and two half seasons. He also represented the college for three National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tennis tournaments.


After college, he coached high school basketball teams at Beloit, Wisconsin and Stevens Point, Wisconsin that advanced to the state competition.[citation needed] Erickson was drafted in 1953, serving for two years in the United States Army. He began coaching college basketball at Lake Forest College, compiling 34 wins and 38 losses for three seasons between 1955 and 1958. He served as an assistant coach for the University of Wisconsin–Madison for the 1958-59 season. The following year, he succeeded Bud Foster as head coach, and compiled a 100-114 record in nine seasons. His 1962 team finished second in the Big Ten Conference. He remained at Wisconsin until he was hired as the general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks expansion team in 1968.

After Erickson resigned as the general manager, he won the Republican Party primary, but lost in his 1970 run for the United States Senate against incumbent William Proxmire.

After the loss, Erickson became president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a position that he held for 15 years. The Big Eight Conference hired Erickson to be its director of basketball in 1988, a position that he held until he was promoted to be the assistant commissioner.


Erickson is inducted in four halls of fame. He was inducted in the Lake Forest College hall of fame in 1989 and Beloit College's Hall of Honor in 1968.

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Lake Forest (College Conference of Illinois) (1955–1958)
1955–56 Lake Forest 14–9 7–7 5th
1956–57 Lake Forest 7–17 3–11 7th
1957–58 Lake Forest 13–12 8–6 3rd
Lake Forest: 34–38 18–24
Wisconsin (Big Ten Conference) (1959–1968)
1959–60 Wisconsin 8–16 4–10 9th
1960–61 Wisconsin 7–17 4–10 8th
1961–62 Wisconsin 17–7 10–4 2nd
1962–63 Wisconsin 14–10 7–7 6th
1963–64 Wisconsin 8–16 2–12 10th
1964–65 Wisconsin 9–13 4–10 8th
1965–66 Wisconsin 11–13 6–8 7th
1966–67 Wisconsin 13–11 8–6 4th
1967–68 Wisconsin 13–11 7–7 5th
Wisconsin: 100–114 52–74
Total: 134–152

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion