One of the nation’s most respected coaches, Gene Keady retired in March 2005 after going 512-270 in 25 seasons (1980-2005) with the Purdue Boilermakers.
Keady became Purdue’s all-time winningest coach on Dec. 6, 1997, by defeating Louisville and Hall of Fame coach Denny Crum, 87-69. In 24 years at Purdue, Keady has notched 505 victories. He passed Ward Lambert, who won 371 games with the Boilermakers from 1916 to 1945.
With six Big Ten championships and six national coach of the year awards (second-most by any coach), his record speaks for itself. He is the Big Ten’s third-winningest coach all-time by percentage (.661), and is second in victories (262).
Keady’s six national coach of the year awards came in 1984, 1988, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 2000. His most recent honors 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 (selected by the United States Basketball Writers Association).
Keady led Purdue to six Big Ten championships (1984, 1987, 1988, 1994, 1995 and 1996) in 24 years, including three straight outright titles from 1994 to 1996. That feat has been accomplished by only one other team — Ohio State from 1960 to 1962.
Purdue finished in the upper division of the Big Ten 18 times during Keady’s tenure. The Boilermakers finished second in the league in 1983, 1990 and 1997.
He has been 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 hold the record for most wins in a season with 29. The 1987-88 squad posted a 29-4 record. The 1993-94 Boilermakers posted a 29-5 record.
Overall, the Boilermakers have won 25 or more games six times with Keady at the helm: 29-4 (1987-88), 29-5 (1993-94), 26-6 (1995-96), 28-8 (1997-98), 25-5 (1986-87) and 25-7 (1994-95).
The Boilermakers have had 20-plus wins 14 times under Keady. Purdue posted a school-record six straight 20-win seasons between 1983 and 1988.
Keady’s tally of 20-win seasons is by far the most by any coach in school 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 has 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.
Keady also is a prominent figure in United States basketball. Most recently, 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).
Keady always has been known for getting the most out of his talent. He gets each player to believe in and perform his role, and successfully blends together the diverse talents and personalities of a team.
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.
Keady came to 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 and his wife, Patricia, reside in Lafayette. He has three children: Lisa, Beverly and Dan.