Kansas Roots Close to Keady's Heart
While Keady is a well-known in the world of basketball for his 25 years of coaching at Purdue (1980-2005) and assisting the USA Men's Basketball Team to a gold medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, he was born and raised in the small town of Larned, Kansas, and credits his success to just that.
"Kansas people are really good people, they're honest, they work hard and they want their children to go to college," he said when asked about his Midwest roots. "My dad and mom, they were the best people I ever knew - my dad was the best man I ever knew. They taught me how to treat people right, to respect all cultures, to work hard and be a person that could be productive and successful. I learned all that from my Kansas roots."
During a visit to Manhattan earlier this fall, Keady had the opportunity to sit in on one of K-State men's basketball's practices and, for the first time, tour the K-State Basketball Training Facility. While in town he visited with old friends like his former assistant at Purdue (1980-1998) and current K-State head coach Bruce Weber and Mr. K-State - Ernie Barrett as well as head football coach Bill Snyder.
Keady began his collegiate athletics career playing four sports (football, baseball, track and basketball) at Garden City Junior College (1954-56) where he earned All-American status as the Broncbusters' quarterback before transferring to K-State and lettering in football, baseball and track from 1956-58.
Earning his degree from K-State in biological sciences and physical education, Keady began his career in coaching at Beloit High School (1959-65). He then coached at Hutchinson Junior College (1965-74) followed by stints at Arkansas and Western Kentucky before taking over at Purdue.
In October of 2010, Keady was hired as an assistant coach at St. John's University in New York, where he currently lives and works.
"I'm a lot like an advisor; I coach the coaches - and they don't listen either," laughed Keady, "but I love it, I like New York City."
From the Big Apple to the Little Apple, Keady took a few minutes to sit down with K-State Sports Extra and reminisce back to his time at K-State and share his thoughts on how the university has grown, the football program's turnaround and his good friend Bruce Weber.
Here's a look at the conversation:
Sports Extra: Have you visited K-State often?
Gene Keady: "No, but Jack Hartman asked me to play the game to open the new arena (1988), so when I was at Purdue we played (at Bramlage Coliseum). Then I came back because (Bob) Huggins had me back for a clinic once (2006). So I haven't been back much, but I watch K-State a lot. I'm a big fan of the football program, because I played football, and I was always a big fan of Tex Winter's. I've always followed all the K-State stuff."
Sports Extra: So, after being away for so many years, what do you think of Manhattan?
Keady: "My goodness, the town has really changed. They've upgraded so many things. They've added so many buildings, and the facilities for the athletic department here, the new buildings for engineering, the vet school, it's all just so unbelievable, and I'm very proud of it."
Sports Extra: As a former player, what do you think of the job Bill Snyder has done with the K-State football program?
Keady: "It's unbelievable. It's an unbelievable story about what he's done with it. The number of people that come to the games, winning and all the things that people have contributed, it's just been unbelievable and I'm just so happy for everybody."
Sports Extra: What is something you took during your time at K-State that you have carried with you throughout your coaching career?
Keady: "The list is endless. There are so many things that I took, first of all, I had great professors, in fact, I went into teaching first because one of my professors told me, 'You ought to be a teacher.' I didn't understand why, but I guess it was because he thought I could do some things that would help people learn. I just had so many people here help me: the head football coach, the head track coach, I watched Tex Winter's teams practice. I got my Master's when he was writing his book - The Triple Post - and then I ran the triple post while coaching high school in Beloit and the junior college in Hutchinson. There are just so many lives I touched that have helped me. It's unbelievable, really."
Sports Extra: Many of the coaches who coached under you at Purdue, like Bruce Weber, are coaching at successful basketball programs right now. How does it feel knowing that you helped them to that success?
Keady: "It's great because it makes me feel like I might have taught them something good or these places wouldn't have hired them. So I feel very proud of them and their families. I'm happy for them."
Sports Extra: You coached with Bruce Weber for a long time and know him well. What do you like about him?
Keady: "He has the two things that I think are important to motivate people: he's enthusiastic and he's honest. If the players can trust you, they'll follow you anywhere and they'll work hard to be successful. He does those two things with tremendous ability. He was the best-organized assistant I've ever had. He's always ahead of everything on detail. He tells the truth and you know when he says something, he means it."
On Saturday, the K-State men's basketball team (6-4) will travel to Kansas City to face Texas A&M (7-2) at the Sprint Center in the Wildcat Classic. The game is set to tip off at 6 p.m., and will be aired on ESPNU.
Tickets for this weekend's game can be purchased through K-State's online ticket office by clicking here, or fans can call 1-800-221-CATS.