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McKay Steps Down From Head Coaching Position

April 1, 2009
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Head coach Ritchie McKay has stepped down from his position.

Head coach Ritchie McKay has stepped down from his position.

Liberty University Head Men's Basketball Coach Ritchie McKay has announced that he is stepping down from his position, effective immediately.

McKay was named the seventh head men's basketball coach in program history on March 26, 2007, and since has guided the program to a 39-28 combined record and a 19-13 mark in Big South Conference play.

"While this decision was a surprise to us all, I have great respect for Ritchie McKay and wish his family the very best as they open another chapter in their lives," stated Liberty's Director of Athletics Jeff Barber.

"I believe I speak for the entire Liberty family when I offer my appreciation to Coach McKay for the solid foundation he brought to our program. I know that he loves Liberty University and always will."

Liberty finished McKay's first season with the program in fourth place of the Big South with a 7-7 mark, followed by a third-place regular-season ranking this past year with a 12-6 record. The Flames advanced to the semifinals of the Big South Basketball Championship both years under McKay's tenure.

"With the support of Chancellor Falwell, we will use Coach McKay's time here at Liberty as another building block, just as we have done with our former coaches, to develop a Division I men's basketball program that will compete at the highest level," said Barber.

During his last season as the program's head coach, McKay guided the Flames to 23-12 overall record, which marked the fifth 20-win season in program history and the first since 1997. Liberty participated in the inaugural CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, opening the event with a 79-64 victory over Rider.

Barber has asked current assistant head coach Brad Soucie to remain with the program as interim head coach, as well as assistant coaches Jason Eaker and Kyle Getter to stay on staff, at this time. A national search for a new head men's basketball coach will begin immediately.

Quote from Ritchie McKay:
Today I am announcing that I will not return as head coach next season. I realize that the decision I've made will have a certain perception attached to it, as well as a certain level of confusion. I hope that what I share here will help everyone to understand that this decision was made through much thought and prayer.

Let me start off by saying that I have decided to accept a position at Virginia, as assistant to the head coach. I will have the opportunity to work with a dear friend of mine, Tony Bennett, whose dad mentored me in the profession and whose relationship I've enjoyed for the last decade.

Having served as a head coach for the last 13 years, I have to say that I have never enjoyed my coaching experience more than at Liberty University. It has tremendous leadership, authenticity and perspective that make being a part of this University a blessing.

I am leaving because my wife and I feel that we are supposed to start a new chapter in my professional career - one that does not involve me being a head coach at this time. Not many people voluntarily leave a head coaching position to become an assistant. It speaks to my relationship with Coach Bennett and the opportunity that I have in assisting him to build a great program.

It is not an indictment against the athletics program or its leadership. As a matter of fact, Jeff Barber is one of the best athletics directors and people I have ever been around. His entire staff is equally as endearing.

Regardless of who the next coach may be at Liberty University, I know that he will walk into a situation with tremendous student-athletes who have outstanding moral fiber, on a campus with great students and faculty whose character is nothing short of inspiring. He will undoubtedly inherit a program that has a chance to compete for conference championships in its future.

I want to thank Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., and everyone involved with Liberty's family for blessing my family and I. We wish this program nothing but the best in the future.