In 1988, a coaching veteran gave an aspiring young colleague a chance with a position at Purdue University. Now, 23 seasons later, that one-time Boilermaker graduate assistant, Steve Lavin, called upon his former boss to join him in his new endeavor at St. John’s University in an advisory role.
One of the most respected coaches in the history of college basketball, Gene Keady, who spent 27 seasons at the helm of the Purdue and Western Kentucky programs and won 550 NCAA Division I games – with more than 800 career wins at all levels – joins the Red Storm as Special Assistant/Advisor to the Head Coach.Though Keady’s role will not involve any on-court coaching, his keen eye and feel for the game will aid the St. John’s coaching staff in terms of developing strategy, analyzing game film, planning practices, and contributing at staff meetings. With experience at the collegiate level and in the professional ranks as an assistant coach with the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, Keady brings literally decades of perspective to the Red Storm bench.
“Coach Keady’s main responsibility with our basketball program will be to observe practices, contribute in our coaching staff meetings and practice planning,” Lavin said. “I wanted that grandfather presence with our team. Coach Keady has the experience, energy and a great deal of perspective to offer us. He was the most influential person in developing my coaching philosophy. The timing and the fit just seemed right for us here.”
Widely recognized throughout the nation, Keady will serve as a new ambassador for the St. John’s program at University functions, and events in and around the metropolis he has loved, New York City.
With 512 victories, six Big Ten titles and a half-dozen national coach of the year awards, Keady’s record at Purdue speaks for itself. He is the program’s all-time winningest coach, the Big Ten’s second-winningest coach in victories (262) and is third-winningest by percentage (.661).
Keady’s six national coach of the year awards came in 1984, 1988, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 2000. His most recent honor came in 2000 when he was selected national coach of the year by College Sports Magazine, Basketball Weekly, Chevrolet/CBS-TV Sports, Associated Press, United Press International and Sports Illustrated. He also received the Henry Iba Award from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.
Keady led Purdue to six Big Ten championships (1984, 1987, 1988, 1994, 1995 and 1996) in 25 years, including three-straight outright crowns from 1994-96. That feat has only been accomplished by one other team in league history – Ohio State from 1960-62.
Purdue finished in the top half of the Big Ten 18 times during Keady’s 25-year tenure, including runner-up finishes in 1983, 1990 and 1997.
He was named Big Ten Coach of the Year a record seven times (1984, 1988, 1990, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 2000), tying former Indiana coach Bob Knight for the most all-time selections. Keady is the only coach to win the award three-straight years.
Two of Keady’s teams share the program record for wins in a season with 29. The 1987-88 squad posted a 29-4 record, while the 1993-94 Boilermakers were 29-5 on the year.
Overall, the Boilers won at least 25 games six times under Keady’s watch: 25-5 in 1986-87, 29-4 in 1987-88, 29-5 in 1993-94, 25-7 in 1994-95, 26-6 in 1995-96 and 28-8 in 1997-98. The Boilermakers won at least 20 games 14 times under Keady, including a school-record streak of six 20-win seasons from 1983-88.
Keady’s tally of 20-win seasons is by far the most by any coach in school history. Other Purdue coaches with 20-win seasons include Fred Schaus (2), Lee Rose (2) and George King (1).
Under Keady, Purdue made 22 postseason tournament appearances in 24 years (17 times in the NCAA Tournament) and averaged 21.2 wins per season.
The Boilermakers’ best performances in the “Big Dance” came in 1994 and 2000 with a pair of appearances in the Elite Eight. Purdue advanced to the Sweet 16 in 1988, 1998 and 1999.
Purdue finished in the top 10 of the final AP poll six times under Keady: 1984 (10th); 1987 (7th); 1988 (3rd); 1990 (10th); 1994 (3rd); and 1996 (T-4th). Purdue finished 11th in 1998. In 2000, Purdue finished ranked 15th in the ESPN/USA Today poll.
A member and former president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), Keady is one of the leading spokesmen on issues surrounding college basketball. Keady gives back to the game of basketball whenever he has a chance. He is very accommodating to the news media, performs charity work and makes numerous speaking appearances throughout the year.
In 2010, the NABC honored Keady with its Golden Anniversary Award for more than 50 years of contributions to the game of college basketball.
Keady also is a prominent figure in United States basketball. He was a member of Rudy Tomjanovich’s coaching staff for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, helping Team USA to a gold medal.
Prior to that, Keady coached the U.S. entry in the 1989 World University Games to a gold medal in West Germany. It was the United States’ first championship in international competition in three years. Keady was the head coach of the United States for the 1991 Pan-American Games and led the team to a bronze medal. Keady earlier led a group of collegiate all-stars in the U.S. Olympic Developmental Program to second place in the 1985 Jones Cup in Taiwan. Keady’s first international experience came in the summer of 1979. Along with three other coaches, Keady guided the National Sports Festival Team to a gold medal.
He also assisted in selecting the 1984 and 1988 U.S. Olympic squads, and was chosen by Tomjanovich to help coach the USA Basketball Senior National Team in the 1999 Americas Qualification Tournament for the 2000 Olympic Games. Overall, he has helped the United States win three gold medals, a silver and a bronze, while establishing an impressive 40-2 record (.952).
In 26 seasons as a Division I collegiate head coach, he owned a record of 543-268 (.670). Counting his time in junior college, high school and four stints as USA Basketball head coach, his lifetime head coaching ledger is 872-360, a .708 winning percentage.
Under his watch, the Boilermakers were successful in the classroom as well as on the basketball court. Nearly 90 percent of the seniors who stayed at Purdue for four seasons under Keady graduated. In Keady’s tenure, Boilermakers were selected Academic All-Big Ten 35 times, including seven Academic All-America picks (Brian Walker, 1981; Keith Edmonson, 1982; Steve Reid, 1983 and 1984; Craig Riley, 1992; and Carson Cunningham, 2000 and 2001).
Keady coached the consensus national player of the year, Glenn Robinson, in 1993-94. Robinson led the nation in scoring average (30.3) and set a Purdue and Big Ten single-season scoring record (1,030 points). Overall, Keady-coached players have earned All-America status three times (Robinson twice; Keith Edmonson, 1982) and first team All-Big Ten 15 times. Thirteen of Keady’s players have been NBA draftees, and three were named Big Ten MVP (Robinson, 1994; Stephen Scheffler, 1990; and Jim Rowinski, 1984).
Keady was named Purdue’s 17th head basketball coach on April 11, 1980. He arrived at Purdue after a two-year stint as head coach at Western Kentucky. He led the Hilltoppers to a 38-19 record. They were co-champions of the Ohio Valley Conference his second season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to taking the reins at Western Kentucky, Keady was an assistant coach at Arkansas from 1975 to 1978. He helped Eddie Sutton mold the Razorback program into one of the nation’s best. In doing so, Keady earned his reputation as a tireless recruiter by proving instrumental in Arkansas’ recruiting its famous “Triplets” of Ron Brewer, Marvin Delph and Sidney Moncrief. Arkansas went 94-24 in Keady’s four seasons as an assistant and finished third in the NCAA Tournament in his final campaign.
From 1966 to 1974, Keady coached at Hutchinson (Kansas) Junior College. He was an assistant the first season before taking over as head coach for the 1966-67 season.
Hutchinson won six league titles and qualified for six national tournaments under Keady, including a second-place showing and a 29-4 overall record in 1972-73. Keady was named junior college coach of the year in Region Six in 1971, 1972 and 1973. Before going to Hutchinson, Keady began his head coaching career in Beloit, Kan., at Beloit High School from 1959 to 1965, where he compiled a 102-47 record.
Keady attended Garden City (Kansas) Junior College, where he was a four-sport star, including an All-American as a football quarterback. He then went on to Kansas State, where he played baseball, football and ran track while earning a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and physical education. He played briefly for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1958 before joining the coaching ranks at Beloit High.
Keady earned his master’s degree in education from Kansas State in 1964. He is enshrined in the National Junior College Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and coach, and in the Kansas Hall of Fame as a coach.
A native of Larned, Kan., Keady now splits time between Lafayette, Ind., and New York City. He and his late wife, Patricia, have three children: the late Lisa, Beverly and Dan.
The Gene Keady File
1966 Hutchison Junior College, Assistant Coach
1967-74 Hutchison Junior College, Head Coach
1975-78 University of Arkansas, Assistant Coach
1979-80 Western Kentucky University, Head Coach
1980-05 Purdue University, Head Coach
2005-06 Toronto Raptors, Assistant Coach
2010-present St. John’s University, Special Assistant/Advisor
USA Basketball Coaching Experience
1985 Olympic Developmental, Head Coach
1989 World University Games, Head Coach
1991 Pan American Games, Head Coach
1999 Olympic Qualifying, Assistant Coach
2000 Olympics – Sydney, Australia, Assistant Coach
· National Coach of the Year: 1984, ’88, ’94, ’95, ’96, 2000
1984 National Coach of the Year by the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), CBS Sports, Chevrolet Scholarship Program, Hoop Scoop and Iowa Rebounders Club
1988 National Coach of the Year by NBC Sports
1994 National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) National Coach of the Year
1995 National Coach of the Year by Chevrolet/CBS Sports
1996 National Coach of the Year by Chevrolet/CBS Sports, the Associated Press (AP), United Press International (UPI), College Sports Magazine, Basketball Weekly; recipient of the Henry Iba Award (selected by the USBWA)
2000 National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) National Coach of the Year
· Big Ten Coach of the Year: 1984, ’88, ’90, ’94, ’95, ’96, 2000
· National Junior College Basketball Hall of Fame (as both a player and coach)
· Kansas Hall of Fame (coach)
· Education: Kansas State University (1958), B.S. in biological sciences and physical education; Kansas State University (1964), M.S. in education
· Date of Birth: May 21, 1936 in Larned, Kan.
· Family: Wife – the late Patricia Keady. Children – the late Lisa, Beverly, Dan