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Ritchie McKayHead Men's Basketball Coach
College: Seattle Pacific ('87)
Start Date: 3/26/2007
What They Are Saying About Ritchie McKay
On March 26, 2007, a crisp and cool spring morning in Lynchburg, Liberty's Director of Athletics Jeff Barber stepped to the microphone in the Grand Lobby of the DeMoss Learning Center to announce the seventh men's basketball coach in program history. Barber poetically stated that there was "one person, one coach who was the right person for the right place at the perfect time."
That person is Ritchie McKay, a man who brings a wealth of head coaching experience to Liberty Mountain, is inspired by the mission of the late Dr. Jerry Falwell of building a world-class Christian university and has a passion for the game of basketball.
Liberty marks McKay's fifth head coaching stint, and his first east of the Mississippi, after stops in the Big Sky, Mountain West, Pac-10 and WAC conferences.
"We are extremely fortunate to have a coach like Ritchie McKay join the Liberty University family," stated Barber. "He brings with him a wealth of experience that will allow our basketball program to move to the highest level. Not only is he an outstanding coach, but even more, he is a man of superior character who will build our program with class and integrity."
McKay, 42, comes to Liberty from New Mexico, where he spent five seasons at the helm of the Lobos' basketball program (2003-07), highlighted by a Mountain West Conference (MWC) championship in 2005. With a 26-7 record, the conference championship earned New Mexico its first NCAA Tournament appearance in six years and the program's first conference title since 1996.
Overall at New Mexico, McKay sported an 82-69 coaching record over five seasons, including the 2005 campaign, where the team's 26 victories were the second-highest total in program's 103-year history.
In 2006, New Mexico's Mark Walters earned first-team all-conference honors under McKay's tutelage, marking the first time in Mountain West Conference history an institution had a first-team honoree for five-straight years. McKay had previously taken a virtual unknown in Danny Granger and turned him into a third-team All-American and MVP of the Mountain West Tournament in 2005, leading to the Indiana Pacers selecting him as the 17th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft.
In total, 22 players have reached the professional basketball ranks in McKay's 11 seasons as a collegiate head coach. Ime Udoka of the Portland Trail Blazers and Milt Palacio, formerly of the Utah Jazz and most recently of the Seattle SuperSonics, join Granger as a few of McKay's pupils who have reached the NBA.
McKay not only produces excellence on the court, but in the classroom as well. Of the 13 Lobos who concluded their collegiate eligibility at New Mexico during McKay's tenure, eight received their diplomas. Of the five student-athletes without degrees, two are on track to graduate in May 2008 while the other three, Granger, Javin Tindall and Ruben Douglas, are currently playing professional basketball at some level. McKay is sporting a 100 percent graduation rate of players who spent at least three years in his system and the New Mexico team GPA in 2007 was the program's highest since the school started tracking such numbers in 1988.
"I can't tell you how privileged and excited I am to join the Liberty family," stated McKay. "My wife, Julie, and I were blown away by the leadership and atmosphere we experienced during our time in Lynchburg. I feel like it is a perfect fit for me not only to compete for championships but to be a part of a university mission that I so strongly believe in."
In 11 years as a head coach, McKay has posted a 165-158 career coaching record, including two-year stints each at Portland State (1997-98), Colorado State (1999-00) and Oregon State (2001-02).
McKay posted a 37-23 record (.627) at Colorado State, which included a 1999 National Invitational Tournament (NIT) berth. The Rams defeated Mississippi State and in-state rival Colorado at the event, before losing to eventual NIT Tournament champion California.
The 1999-2000 season featured the first year of play for CSU in the Mountain West Conference, and the Rams logged an 18-12 record and a fourth-place conference finish.
A pair of victories over nationally-ranked opponents - the first time the program had accomplished the feat at Colorado State in a decade - and capturing the title at the second annual Pearl Harbor Classic in Hawaii were some of the highlights during the season. College Hoops Insider magazine noticed the success of the 2000 Rams and tabbed McKay as its MWC Coach of the Year.
Before arriving on the Colorado State campus, McKay began his head coaching career when he was named the head coach at Portland State. McKay started with the Vikings in 1995, helping revive a program which had been dormant for 15 years. McKay led the program to nine victories in the school's first season of competition (1996-97) since the early 1980s.
After the initial season at Portland State, McKay was named one of six finalists for the Clair Bee Award, given annually to the coach with the most influence and innovation in the game of basketball. Two other finalists for the honor that year were Dean Smith of North Carolina and Mike Krzyzewski of Duke. The 1997-98 Portland State team followed with a 15-12 mark and a third-place finish in the Big Sky Conference.
McKay started his basketball coaching career in 1988 as a graduate assistant at the University of Washington.
McKay followed his start with the Huskies with two years as an assistant at Queens College in North Carolina (1989-90), where he worked for former Colorado State head coach and current Liberty assistant Dale Layer. McKay also spent time at his alma mater, Seattle Pacific (1990-91), Bradley (1991-93) and Washington (1993-95) again. McKay also served as an assistant under Jim Molinari at the 1997 World University Games in Italy, where the USA captured the gold medal.
McKay earned his bachelor of arts degree in athletic administration from Seattle Pacific in 1987. A stellar player for the Falcons, McKay left the program as the school's single-season and career record holder for steals, and he was third in career assists. He still holds the school record with 10 steals in a 1987 game against Pacific Lutheran.
McKay is married to the former Julie Summers. The couple resides in Forest, Va., with their two sons, Luke (9) and Gabriel (7) and a daughter, Ellie (12).