On June 9, 2008, Northwestern University Director of Athletics and Recreation Jim Phillips named Joe McKeown the head women's basketball coach at Northwestern. McKeown (pronounced Mick-Q-ann) is the sixth mentor to guide Northwestern's women's basketball program.
During his time in Evanston, McKeown has transformed the culture of the women's basketball program while cementing his name as one of the winningest coaches in NCAA Division I Women's Basketball. With another winning season in 2014-15, including five wins over top-25 opponents, McKeown now has 620 career victories, making him one of the leaders in career wins amongst active Division I head coaches. Additionally, McKeown has guided the Wildcats to four winning seasons, amassing more wins in seven years with the program (111) than the previous 11 years before his arrival in Evanston (77 wins in 11 seasons; 1997-2008).
McKeown led the Wildcats through a magical and historical 2014-15 season that ended with 23 wins and the program's first NCAA Tournament berth since 1997. The team opened the season with 10 consecutive wins to mark the longest winning streak for any Northwestern team since the 1989-90 season. The team finished with at least 20 wins for the first time since 1996 and at least 12 wins in Big Ten for the first time since 1992-93. For his efforts, McKeown was named the 2015 Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Division I Coach of the Year.
The 'Cats vaulted into both top-25 polls throughout the 2014-15 season as well. On the heels of an 11-1 start, Northwestern entered the USA Today coaches top-25 poll for the first time ever on Dec. 30, 2014 at No. 25. A few months later, on Feb. 23, 2015 NU entered the Associated Press top-25 poll for the first time since 1996, checking in at No. 25. McKeown and the Wildcats rose as high as No. 22 in the AP poll on March 9.
When it came to postseason play, McKeown had Chicago's Big Ten Team primed and ready. Northwestern earned a first-round bye and eventually reached the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament for the first time in program history before falling to Maryland, a 2015 Final Four participant. On Selection Monday the Wildcats heard their name called to participate in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997. The Wildcats, a No. 7 seed in the Oklahoma City Regional, traveled to Waco, Texas, where they dropped a heartbreaking two-point decision to Arkansas in the first round.
During his tenure, the Wildcats have established a number of other program firsts, including Nia Coffey becoming the first freshman in program history to be named First Team All-Big Ten during the 2013-14 campaign, Maggie Lyon's crowning as the 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Amy Jaeschke becoming the first Wildcat to be selected in the WNBA Draft (2011). Additionally, the Wildcats had the best back-to-back seasons in nearly 20 years under McKeown's watch. Combined, the 2013-14 and 2014-15 campaigns yielded 40 victories, two postseason appearances and multiple milestone wins over nationally-renown Rutgers, Michigan State, Nebraska, Minnesota and DePaul.
The Wildcats have also seen postseason success under McKeown as they have qualified for the postseason in four of the last six years, including the recent NCAA Tournament bid in 2015. Before McKeown led Northwestern to the WNIT in 2009-10, just his second year with the program, NU had not made the postseason since 1997. That year, the Wildcats played George Washington University in the first round of the 1997 NCAA Tournament and at the time, McKeown coached against NU as he was head coach of the Colonials.
McKeown has coached 11 players to multiple All-Big Ten honors, including Amy Jaeschke earning All-Big Ten honors each of her four years with the Wildcats. Jaeschke went on to become the first Wildcat selected in the WNBA draft as she was the 27th pick overall by the Chicago Sky. Jaeschke turned in not only one of the best seasons in Wildcat annals, but also one of the most storied careers. In the Northwestern record books, she finished her career ranked first in blocks and second in scoring and in rebounding. Jaeschke also was tabbed an Associated Press honorable mention All-American, marking the first time since 1998 that a Wildcat appeared on the prestigious list.
The Wildcats entered the 2011-12 campaign following the best back-to-back seasons in nearly 15 years. Combined, the 2009-10 and 2010-11 campaigns yielded 37 victories, two postseason appearances and milestone wins over nationally-renown Ohio State, LSU and DePaul. Northwestern's improvement from 2008-09 (7-23) to 2009-10 (18-15) was tied for the 10th best turnaround in the nation and ranked fourth among BCS schools.
McKeown joined the Wildcats following 19 years as the head coach at George Washington University, where he became one of the most respected names in women's college basketball. During the 2007-08 season, McKeown became the 34th head coach in Division I history to pass the 500-victory mark. He brought 509 career victories, a total which ranked 21st on the active Division I list, to Evanston.
McKeown left George Washington as the winningest coach in school history and in the Atlantic 10 Conference. In 28 seasons as a college head coach, McKeown has guided his team to postseason play 22 times. He coached the Colonials to 14 regular season or postseason Atlantic 10 crowns.
In his 19 seasons at George Washington, McKeown compiled a 441-154 record, with his 1997 squad reaching the Elite Eight. On three other occasions, the Colonials advanced to the Sweet Sixteen--1995, 2007 and 2008. In his 15 NCAA Tournament trips with GW, the Colonials won their first-round tournament game 13 times. McKeown is a five-time Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year (1991, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2007) and two-time National Coach of the Year nominee (1995, 1997). He was inducted into the George Washington Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.
After spending three seasons as the head coach at New Mexico State, where he went 68-20 and appeared in two NCAA tournaments, McKeown went to George Washington in September of 1989, inheriting a team that went 9-19 a year earlier. After his first squad went 14-14, McKeown quickly turned the Colonials into an elite women's college program with his teams averaging nearly 24 wins per year the next 18 seasons.
At GW, McKeown coached six Atlantic 10 Players of the Year. He also has mentored seven A-10 Rookies of the Year, five Defensive Players of the Year, five Sixth Players of the Year, 14 All-Rookie Team selections and 51 all-conference performers. McKeown has coached 16 players who have gone on to play professional basketball (four WNBA draft picks).
Equally as impressive as GW's success on the court was its outstanding performance in the classroom. During McKeown's tenure with the Colonials, George Washington players received Atlantic 10 Academic All-Conference recognition 17 times and eight players were named CoSIDA academic all-district selections (three Academic All-Americans). Of those eight, one was a Rhodes Scholar nominee and another received a Fulbright Scholarship. Other former student-athletes under McKeown's guidance include a GW School of Business Distinguished Scholar Award, an NCAA Woman of the Year representative and two Atlantic 10 Student-Athletes of the Year.
McKeown has been intimately involved with USA Basketball throughout his career. In April 2015, the veteran leader was named the head coach for the 2015 USA Basketball Women's World University Games Team. He will lead that group to Gwangju, South Korea for competition in July 2015. Additionally, he was named an assistant coach for the 2008 USA Basketball Women's U18 National Team, but withdrew from that staff after accepting the head coach position at Northwestern. McKeown was also a court coach for the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Prior to coaching at New Mexico State, McKeown served as an assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma from 1983-86, and at his alma mater, Kent State University, from 1979-80. Oklahoma posted at least 20 wins in each of McKeown's three years on the coaching staff.
As a player, McKeown earned Junior College National Small Player of the Year honors at Mercer College in Trenton, N.J. He helped the team to a 33-1 record and a spot in the NJCAA championship game. McKeown transferred to Kent State the following season, where he was co-captain of the Golden Flashes as a senior and earned honorable mention All-Mid-American Conference honors. His school-record 15 assists in a game still stands.
A proud native of Philadelphia, McKeown was inducted into the Father Judge High School Hall of Fame, a prestigious member of the Philadelphia Catholic League, in 1999.
McKeown and his family are heavily involved in the Autism Speaks Foundation, a national organization that creates awareness and raises money for the fight against autism. McKeown and his wife, Laura, have three children, Meghan, Joey and Ally.
Year-By-Year Head Coaching History
Season School Record Postseason
1986-87 New Mexico State 23-7 NCAA Tournament
1987-88 New Mexico State 26-3 NCAA Tournament
1988-89 New Mexico State 19-10 --
1989-90 George Washington 14-14 --
1990-91 George Washington 23-7 NCAA Tournament (Second Round)
1991-92 George Washington 25-7 NCAA Tournament (Second Round)
1992-93 George Washington 20-11 WNIT
1993-94 George Washington 23-8 NCAA Tournament (Second Round)
1994-95 George Washington 26-6 NCAA Tournament (Sweet 16)
1995-96 George Washington 26-7 NCAA Tournament (Second Round)
1996-97 George Washington 28-6 NCAA Tournament (Elite Eight)
1997-98 George Washington 20-10 NCAA Tournament (Second Round)
1998-99 George Washington 19-9 --
1999-00 George Washington 26-6 NCAA Tournament (Second Round)
2000-01 George Washington 22-10 NCAA Tournament
2001-02 George Washington 21-9 WNIT (Second Round)
2002-03 George Washington 25-7 NCAA Tournament (Second Round)
2003-04 George Washington 22-8 NCAA Tournament
2004-05 George Washington 23-9 NCAA Tournament (Second Round)
2005-06 George Washington 23-9 NCAA Tournament (Second Round)
2006-07 George Washington 28-4 NCAA Tournament (Sweet 16)
2007-08 George Washington 27-7 NCAA Tournament (Sweet 16)
2008-09 Northwestern 7-23 --
2009-10 Northwestern 18-15 WNIT (Round of 16)
2010-11 Northwestern 19-14 WNIT (Second Round)
2011-12 Northwestern 14-16 -- 2012-13 Northwestern 13-17 -- 2013-14 Northwestern 17-16 WNIT (Round of 16) 2014-15 Northwestern 23-9 NCAA Tournament
TOTALS 620-284 (.686) (29 seasons)
• 34th coach in NCAA history to win 500 or more games • 15th in career wins amongst active Division I coaches (entering 2013-14 season) • 30th in career wins amongst active coaches (all levels; entering 2013-14 season) • 31st in career winning percentage amongst active Division I coaches (entering 2013-14 season) • 29th on NCAA winningest coaches of all time list by victories (entering 2013-14 season) • 42nd on NCAA winningest coaches of all time list by winning percentage (entering 2013-14 season) • Made 18 NCAA Tournament appearances
• Advanced to Elite Eight in 1997
• Three additional Sweet Sixteen appearances, four total (1995, 1997, 2007, 2008)
• In 15 NCAA tournament appearances at GW, the Colonials won their first-round game 13 times
• Colonials were ranked as high as sixth nationally for three weeks in 1991-92
• His 2007-08 team was 27-7, won the Atlantic 10 regular-season title and was ranked as high as No. 12 nationally
• Won the Atlantic 10 regular season or tournament title in 14 of 19 seasons at GW
• Six-time Conference Coach of the Year (One at New Mexico State, five at George Washington)
• Has coached 17 players who went on to play professionally (five WNBA draft picks)
• Has coached multiple All-Americans and Academic All-Americans