In 1988, a coaching veteran gave an aspiring young colleague a chance with a position at Purdue University. In the Spring of 2010, 23 seasons later, that one-time Boilermaker graduate assistant, Steve Lavin, called upon his former boss to join him in a 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 - serves the Red Storm as Special Assistant/Advisor to the Head Coach.
Though Keady's role does not involve any on-court coaching, his keen eye and feel for the game aids 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.
Widely recognized throughout the nation, Keady serves as a new ambassador for the St. John's program at University functions, and events in and around the metropolis he loves, 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 Purdue 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. In 2012, he was presented with the Joe Lapchick Character Award, forever cementing his connection with St. John's University.
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. Keady is married to the former Kathleen Petrie. He has three children: the late Lisa, Beverly and Dan.