Manhattan, Kan. ( Associated Press) — Former Green Bay Packers halfback Verel Switzer, who traded a career in the NFL to serve as a lieutenant in the Air Force, died Saturday. He was 89 years old.
Prior to his professional career, Switzer starred in the gridiron and track and field at Kansas State before returning as an administrator. Citing his family, the school announced his death in a statement on Sunday. Additional details were not provided.
Wildcats athletic director Gene Taylor said of the first black scholarship player to graduate from the land, “Verrill was one of the most influential and influential K-staters in our lifetime and paved the way for many others to follow in his footsteps.” ” Grant Institution. “He will always be remembered as a true pioneer.”
Switzer was an All-American for the Wildcats for three straight seasons, leading the team in 1952 and 1953, and was selected fourth overall by the Packers in the 1954 draft.
Switzer led the NFL in punt return average during his rookie season, then pulled away from the NFL after 24 games for a stint in the military. He served in the Air Force from 1956–58 before spending two more years playing football in Canada.
Switzer spent a decade working at the Chicago Board of Education before returning to Kansas State, where he developed the school’s first university-wide student minority program. Many of the programs that exist today were initiated by Switzer, such as the Ebony Theatre, United Black Voices, Hispanic advocacy groups, and the Black Student Union.
Switzer, who earned a master’s degree in education from Kansas State in 1974, was a charter member of the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990. He was placed in the school’s football ring of honor in 2002.