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News Feed - April 3, 2009

Former Liberty coach Ritchie McKay was officially recognized as an assistant to new Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett today. The press release from Virginia follows:

CHARLOTTESVILLE—Ritchie McKay, the men’s head basketball coach at Liberty University the last two years, has joined the Virginia men’s basketball coaching staff as associate head coach. UVa men’s head basketball coach Tony Bennett made the announcement on Friday.

“To have a coach the caliber of Ritchie McKay join my staff speaks volumes about the University of Virginia,” Bennett said. “He has ties to the Virginia area from his time at Liberty, is a proven recruiter and has significant experience as a Division I head coach.”

McKay comes to Virginia with 13 years of Division I head coaching experience. Prior to the last two years at Liberty, he spent five seasons at New Mexico, two at Oregon State, two at Colorado State and two at Portland State. Over his career as a head coach, McKay’s teams posted a record of 204-186.

In 2008-09, McKay led Liberty to one of the most successful seasons in school history. The Flames were 23-12, tying the school record for wins in a Division I season, and reached the quarterfinals of the inaugural CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. A key to the program’s success was a group of freshmen that comprised McKay’s first recruiting class at the school. It was the first Liberty recruiting class to be ranked in the top 50 nationally and was highlighted by Seth Curry, the nation’s top freshman scorer at 20.2 ppg.
 
“Coming to the University of Virginia means a great deal to me,” McKay said. “I’m impressed by the University’s academic excellence and it’s rich athletic tradition. The fact that Coach Bennett is leading the men’s basketball program made it an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. I have known him a long time and look forward to working with him.

“Not many people leave head coaching positions to be associate head coaches, but the opportunity to work with Tony and do it at a place that can compete for championships in one of the best conferences in the country is exciting to me. It’s a privilege to be a part of the Virginia men’s basketball program.

“I love Liberty University and it was difficult for me to leave because of the great young men I coached and the wonderful people I worked with and got to know during my time there. I’m very thankful for the opportunity granted me at Liberty. It would take a situation like this one for me to leave.

“I’m really excited about joining Tony’s staff. Walking through John Paul Jones Arena and thinking of all the great players who’ve played at UVa made me realize this is a place that has unlimited potential for success.”   
 
Prior to arriving at Liberty, McKay was the head coach at New Mexico for five seasons. His tenure in Albuquerque was highlighted by the 2004-05 season when the Lobos went 26-7 and won the Mountain West Conference championship. McKay recruited J.R. Giddens to New Mexico, the only McDonald’s All-American to play for the Lobos. Giddens was a first round draft pick by the Boston Celtics in 2008.
 
McKay began his head-coaching career in 1995 when he took over a Portland State program that had been dormant for 15 years. He led the Vikings to nine wins in 1996-97, the program’s first year of competition since the early 1980s, and Portland State compiled a 15-12 record in 1997-98. He followed his two years at Portland State with two seasons at Colorado State, leading the Rams to an NIT appearance. McKay then led Oregon State for two seasons before taking over at New Mexico.
 
A 1987 graduate of Seattle Pacific where he played basketball, McKay began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Washington in 1988. He also served as an assistant coach at Queens College in North Carolina (1989-90), Seattle Pacific (1990-91), Bradley (1991-93) and Washington (1993-95).
 
McKay and his wife, Julie, have three children – a daughter, Ellie, and two sons, Luke and Gabriel. 

By Matt Bonesteel  |  April 3, 2009; 3:43 PM ET
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