TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Indiana State University Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman announced this afternoon (March 29) that Kevin McKenna has accepted an offer to become the 24th head men’s basketball coach at ISU. McKenna replaces Royce Waltman, who guided the Sycamores for the last 10 seasons.
“I am pleased to announce the hiring of Kevin McKenna as the new head men’s basketball coach at Indiana State University,” Prettyman said.
“Coach McKenna has been successful at every step of his career as a college player, professional player, businessman, assistant coach and head coach.”
“I am confident that he will continue his impressive string of successes at Indiana State. He is not only a fine recruiter and coach, but he is an educator. He has great plans for our program and will put together a coaching staff that is second to none. He has a delightful family and will be a tremendous role model for the young men in our program for many years to come. We are fortunate to have someone of coach McKenna’s caliber lead our program into the future. Join me in welcoming coach McKenna and his family to Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley.”
McKenna recently completed his ninth season at Creighton as an assistant coach, helping the Bluejays to a 22-11 record and the NCAA tournament this past season. In nine years the Bluejays went to four NCAA Tournaments as well as two National Invitation Tournaments. McKenna made the first of two stops on the Bluejays’ bench from 1994 through 2001, and then returned in 2005.
Before McKenna returned to Creighton, he spent four highly successful years across town as head coach of NCAA Division II Nebraska-Omaha, where he guided the Mavericks to four consecutive 20-win seasons, two North Central Conference titles and three appearances in the NCAA Division II Tournament. The 47-year old McKenna was named the NCC Coach of the Year in both 2004 and 2005 as well as North Central Regional Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) in 2005. He finished with an 89-33 mark in his tenure at UNO.
In his first campaign with the Mavericks, UNO set a school record with 24 wins as they made their first visit to the NCAA Division II Tournament in 17 seasons. The 24-9 record was a 15-win improvement from the 9-17 team he inherited and ranked as one of the nation’s top turnarounds. Prior to his arrival at UNO, the Mavs had not won a league title since 1984 and had not won more than 20 games in a season since 1990.
As a player at Creighton from 1977-1981, McKenna led the Bluejays to a Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship, two MVC Tournament titles and a pair of NCAA Tournaments. He was an All-MVC pick and team MVP in each of his final two seasons.
McKenna ended his collegiate career with exactly 1,500 points and was drafted in the fourth round of the 1981 draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. He was a member of the Lakers’ 1982 NBA championship team and also played for Indiana, New Jersey and Washington during a six-year NBA career. He remains the only person in league history to win an MVC regular-season title, MVC Tournament title, NBA championship and CBA crown.
Following his NBA career, McKenna helped lead the La Crosse Catbirds to the 1989-90 CBA Championship as a player and assistant coach. He then served as the head coach and director of basketball operations for the CBA’s Sioux Falls Skyforce from 1990-93. He spent time as a regional scout for the Washington Bullets in 1993-94 before returning to Creighton as an assistant to Dana Altman in 1994.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in organizational communications from Creighton in 1993 and added a master’s degree in counseling education from his alma mater in 1997. McKenna and his wife, Nancy, have a daughter Megan (22) and a son, Bobby (15).
THE KEVIN MCKENNA FILE:
Full Name: Kevin R. McKenna
Born: January 8, 1959
Children: Megan (22), Bobby (15)
Creighton - Assistant Coach (2005-2006)
Nebraska-Omaha - Head Coach (2001-2005)
Creighton - Assistant Coach (1994-2001)
Sioux Falls (CBA) - Head Coach (1990-1993) Sioux Falls (CBA) - Director of Basketball Operations (1990-1993)
La Crosse (CBA) - Assistant Coach (1989-1990)
Professional Playing Experience:
La Crosse (CBA) - 1989-90
New Jersey (NBA) - 1986-90
Washington (NBA) - 1985-86
New Jersey (NBA) - 1984-85
Indiana (NBA) - 1983-84
Las Vegas/Albuquerque (CBA) - 1982-83
Los Angeles (NBA) - 1981-92
Collegiate Playing Experience:
Creighton - 1977-81
What The Nation Is Saying About Kevin McKenna:
The 24th Head Men’s Basketball Coach At Indiana State University
Dana Altman, Head Coach Creighton University -- I’m happy for Kevin and his family. I know that he’s excited about the challenge. Everyone here at Creighton wishes him the best.
Flip Saunders, Head Coach Detroit Pistons -- I’m excited for him and for Indiana State. You’re getting an individual that is a great communicator, someone who is extremely loyal with a very good basketball mind. He motivates individuals to their best. Having played for so many years in the NBA, he brings that mentality to the college game, seeing mismatches and exploiting them. He’s someone that has the ability to see things two, three plays ahead.
Mark Turgeon, Head Coach Wichita State -- I feel Indiana State has made a great hire with Kevin McKenna. Kevin has proven himself as a head coach and comes from Creighton. He knows what it takes to be successful in the Missouri Valley.
Doug Elgin, Commissioner Missouri Valley Conference -- I’m excited for Kevin and for Indiana State. I think it’s a great hire and great addition to Indiana State. He’s had experience as a head coach and success at Nebraska-Omaha. He’s a guy who can lead ISU back to the upper echelon of the Valley. He understands what it takes to win in the MVC. He can recruit the kind of student-athlete that will thrive in the Sycamores program.
Bruce Rasmussen, Director of Athletics Creighton University -- I’ve followed Kevin since 1980. He’s passionate about the game. He understands the game. His attention to detail and willingness to do a lot of little things that aren’t necessarily recognized but are necessary in order to be successful, and an ability to over achieve that I’ve seen in him since 1980. I only bring that up because in all of these years that I’ve known him, my experience with Kevin has only strengthened those initial observations. He is an outstanding teacher of the game. He understands the game. He is passionate about the game and he’s willing to do all the little things that are necessary for a team to be successful. He will be successful as a head coach at the Division I level because he’s developed a habit of being successful in the almost 30 years that I’ve known him.
Charlie Spoonhour, Former Head Coach Missouri State, Saint Louis, UNLV -- I think it is a great hire. First of all, when you are replacing a very good coach, you need to come right back and get another great coach. Indiana State has done just that. Kevin McKenna is one of the nicest and highest quality people that I know. He is a coach that has done really well as both an assistant and as a head guy. Kevin is familiar with the Missouri Valley Conference, which is good. He has a strong knowledge of the league, and is coming to ISU from an exceptionally successful program. He has already been a successful head coach on his own at Nebraska-Omaha. I think he is going to be a great fit for Terre Haute and Indiana State University.