College Basketball: McKillop rewarded
CHARLOTTE ó When Davidson coach Bob McKillop signed a contract extension a year ago, there was no announcement, no news conference, no publicity.
Saturday morning, a rented conference room was crammed with television cameras and reporters as Davidson announced another extension, one that will keep McKillop at the tiny liberal arts school through at least the 2015-16 season.
Coming within a missed 3-pointer of the Final Four sure changes a coach’s public profile.
“I couldn’t be more at peace in terms of where I am personally in my journey,” McKillop said. “In terms of where I am for my family, in terms of where I am with my job, my friends, our players, our program, I’m really at peace. I think there’s a grasp, an understanding of the system, the program.”
McKillop, who turns 58 next month, was rewarded for last season’s storybook NCAA tournament run with a three-year extension.
McKillop said he successfully negotiated raises for two longtime assistants, Matt Matheny and Jim Fox. McKillop has two openings on his staff, and both will be paid positions. McKillop’s fourth assistant had worked as a volunteer.
The increased commitment comes as Davidson athletic director Jim Murphy said season ticket sales, less than 1,000 last season, are expected to triple as the Stephen Curry-led Wildcats could begin next season ranked in The Associated Press Top 25.
“Some days it seems almost surreal,” Murphy said.
And despite overtures from bigger schools, McKillop will return for a 20th season directing the Southern Conference school, remaining in the same house that sits directly across campus in the picturesque Southern town. His youngest, Brendan, is a rising sophomore.
“He deserves it. What he’s done there is unbelievable,” said departing senior Jason Richards, whose 3-pointer bounced off the rim at the buzzer in the 59-57 loss to Kansas in the Midwest Regional final. “I wasn’t really concerned because he’s really established a foundation there at Davidson. His son’s there, so I really didn’t expect him to leave.”
It certainly helps that the baby-faced, sweet-shooting Curry is back, too. Curry who averaged 32 points in the NCAA tournament, could move to point guard to replace Richards next season.
Curry’s transition and a tough early season schedule are two of the obstacles McKillop faces in his quest to keep Davidson in the national spotlight amid the shadows of heavyweight neighbors North Carolina and Duke.
“The mark of excellence of any program that is great is consistency and endurance,” said McKillop, 340-225 in 19 seasons. “You look down the road to Chapel Hill, you look down the road to Durham, you see that kind of consistency and endurance. Time after time, year after year, they have done it. Well, that’s a high, high bar to reach. We have had one foot in the door in trying to reach that. We have a long way to go. Our steps have been slow, but our steps have been progressive.”