June 9, 2008
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EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern University Director of Athletics and Recreation Jim Phillips has announced that Joe McKeown, the head women's basketball coach at George Washington University the past 19 years, has been named the Wildcats' new head coach.
McKeown (pronounced Mick-Q-ann), who becomes the sixth mentor to guide Northwestern's women's basketball program, is one of the most respected names in women's college basketball. Recently, McKeown became the 34th head coach in Division I history to pass the 500-victory mark. He brings 509 career victories, a total which ranks 21st on the active Division I list, to Evanston.
"We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Joe, his wife Laura, and their children to the Northwestern family," said Phillips. "There is no question that he is one of the best and most accomplished coaches in college basketball right now. Joe's experience and commitment is unmatched. His team's academic successes speak very clearly to his unwavering commitment to the most critical element of the student-athlete experience. In addition to that, Joe is just a tremendous individual who has an incredible passion for coaching student-athletes and helping them reach their potential, both as players and young adults."
McKeown's .745 winning percentage (509-174) ranks 13th among active NCAA women's coaches (minimum five years) and 12th all-time in women's coaching history (minimum 10 years). His 19 20-win seasons are tied for 16th place on the NCAA all-time list. McKeown leaves George Washington as the winningest coach in school history and in the Atlantic 10 Conference. In 22 seasons as a college head coach, McKeown has guided a team to postseason play 19 times. He guided the Colonials to 14 regular season or postseason Atlantic 10 crowns.
"I am very excited to become the new women's basketball coach at Northwestern University," said McKeown. "It is a wonderful opportunity for me and my family to come to Evanston and build a program in a great conference. I have been fortunate to have coached at a world-class university for the past 19 years and had so many terrific student-athletes. I will continue to use that formula at Northwestern. I want to thank Jim Phillips and his staff for allowing me to coach at such a great university."
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 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).
After spending three seasons as the head coach at New Mexico State, where he went 68-20 and appeared in two NCAA tournaments, McKeown came to George Washington in mid-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.
"Joe McKeown brought a consistence of quality unequalled in the history of The George Washington University athletic program," said George Washington President Steven Knapp. "His commitment to academic excellence as well as athletic success epitomized our efforts to build in our student-athletes healthy minds and bodies. We thank him for 19 wonderful years at the helm of our women's basketball program and wish him continued success both personally and professionally."
McKeown also is involved with USA Basketball, as he recently was named an assistant coach for the 2008 USA Basketball Women's U-18 National Basketball Team.
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 after 26 years.
McKeown and his wife, Laura, have three children, Meghan (16), Joey (14) and Ally (6).
Year-By-Year Head Coaching History
Joe McKeown (born May 12, 1956 in Philadelphia)
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)
34th coach in NCAA history to win 500 or more games
14th-best winning percentage (509-174) in NCAA women's basketball history
Made 17 NCAA Tournament appearances in 22 seasons as a head coach
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 never had a losing season in 22 years as a college head coach
Has coached 16 players who went on to play professionally (four WNBA draft picks)
Has coached multiple All-Americans and Academic All-Americans
What They're Saying About Joe McKeown
Pat Summitt, Tennessee Head Coach
"We've played against his teams over the years and they're a very difficult opponent because they're so well-prepared. I've learned from him, with some of his full-court schemes, varying defenses, full-court or 3/4-court. Playing his team has helped me. Because of his preparation, you know going into the game against his teams that you have to be able to change your strategy to be successful. Joe is so knowledgeable and a great strategist. Watch out Big Ten. I have tremendous respect for Joe and am proud for him and Northwestern. I'm anxious to see what he brings to the Big Ten."
Gary Blair, Texas A&M Head Coach
"When you talk to your best friend in coaching, you want him to always make the best move. Too many coaches make the wrong move for the wrong reasons. This is going to be a great change for Joe, just like when I left Arkansas as a top-20 team for the worst team in the Big XII at the time, Texas A&M. Two years later we were in the WNIT and three years later we made the NCAA tournament, and I know Joe is going to have that same success at Northwestern. Sometimes when you are at a place 19 years, you get stagnant and you can't enjoy winning as much because you know you are going to win. You want more challenges.
"I see this situation very similarly to what Gail (Goestenkors) did at Duke. I think Joe will do that same thing with the young team and great academics at Northwestern. I commend (athletic director) Jim Phillips and Northwestern; they went after the right person from another good academic school who knows how to get it done. Our families vacation together; he has a great family and everyone at Northwestern is going to fall in love with them."
Doug Bruno, DePaul Head Coach
"Joe McKeown is an excellent teacher, great coach and a winner. Joe McKeown and Northwestern are a great match. Joe's tradition as a winning coach and Northwestern's tradition as a women's basketball power will play well together in the Big Ten."
Dawn Staley, New South Carolina (former Temple) Head Coach
"Joe is a winner through-and-through. There's no doubt that he will take Northwestern's program in a direction that will be very successful. A lot of people will enjoy his expertise as a coach, and I'm sure he's got some great Philly stories to bring with him, since he's a Philly guy. I look forward to watching his Northwestern program grow like never before."
Mel Greenberg, Women's College Basketball National Beat Writer, Philadelphia Inquirer
"I watched him take an unheralded George Washington program near the bottom of the A-10 and quickly turn it into a conference contender, and soon thereafter, make its impact on the national scene and keep it there. Given all that, it should be no surprise that he should be able to quickly do the same thing with the Wildcats in the Big Ten. It is no coincidence that after Joe arrived in Washington, D.C., a parade of All-Americans began near Pennsylvania Avenue. I'm sure that will begin to happen near the `Mag Mile.'"