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Liberty Names Ritchie McKay Head Men's Basketball Coach
What Are They Saying About Ritchie McKay?
View The Ritchie McKay Press Conference
Liberty University Director of Athletics Jeff Barber announced today at a press conference held in the Grand Lobby of the Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center that Ritchie McKay has been named the seventh head men's basketball coach in program history.
This will be 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, 41, 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 in program 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.
Of the 11 Lobos who concluded their collegiate eligibility at New Mexico during McKay's tenure, eight received their diplomas. The other three, Danny Granger, Javin Tindall and Ruben Douglas, are currently playing professional basketball at some level. Granger was a third-team All-American and MVP of the Mountain West Tournament, leading to the Indiana Pacers selecting him as the 17th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft.
"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 10 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 at Portland State 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 brings a vast array of college coaching experience to Liberty as he 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 Dale Layer, Seattle Pacific (1990-91), Bradley (1991-93) and back to Washington (1993-95). 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 has two sons, Luke (9) and Gabriel (7) and a daughter, Ellie (12).
(L to R) Athletic Director Jeff Barber, Ritchie McKay and Dr. Jerry Falwell