Coach returns to men’s basketball program

Liberty University Athletic Director Jeff Barber announced that former University of Virginia (UVA) Assistant Coach Ritchie McKay will take over as head coach of the Liberty Flames men’s basketball team.

The month-long coaching search came to a conclusion Wednesday, April 1 at a press conference held in Williams Stadium, where Barber made the announcement.

McKay is no stranger to Liberty, as this will be his second term as the Flames men’s basketball head coach. McKay coached the Flames from 2007 to 2009, when he resigned and headed to Charlottesville, Virginia, to join Tony Bennett and the UVA coaching staff.

According to Barber, he interviewed nine different coaches — seven head coaches and two assistant coaches. Once all of the interviews were conducted, Barber said he knew exactly whom he wanted to take over the basketball program.

“There was no question in my mind that the right coach for Liberty (is) Ritchie McKay,” Barber said.

Barber said he reached out to McKay as soon as he had the chance. Barber further acknowledged that the new head coach proved himself as a Christian, coach and recruiter, three key components Barber wanted in Layer’s replacement.

Barber, along with Liberty President Jerry Falwell, introduced McKay to an audience composed of fans, faculty and media, who gave a standing ovation when McKay took to the stage. The basketball team was also in attendance.

“The biggest first step (to changing to the direction of the program) is getting to know the players,” McKay said. “I want to get to know them as people.”

After meeting the players, McKay is focusing on forming his coaching staff, which he will have full say in, according to Barber.

Barber believes McKay is the right man for this position, and so does McKay.

“I’m competitive,” McKay said. “For those of you that know me, I want to win, but I want to win the right way. And I know that there’s a process to that.”

McKay signed a five-year contract for an undisclosed amount. He expects to have the rest of his coaching staff on board by next week.

HAYWOOD is the asst. sports editor.

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