“For the past 10 years, I’ve told players and parents that I would coach as long as my health would allow me to,” Coach McKinney said. “After 1,425 games, my health will not allow me to coach anymore, and my health must take priority right now. I would like to announce that I will be stepping down as the Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Fontbonne University.”
Coach McKinney, who was unable to attend Fontbonne’s game Tuesday night against Webster University because of his ongoing battle with cancer, had a prepared statement read prior to the game's tip-off. This is Coach McKinney’s third battle with cancer.
“I would like to thank Dr. Lee McKinney for his many years of service as Fontbonne’s athletic director and head men’s basketball coach,” Fontbonne University President Dr. Dennis Golden said. “I wish him well in his retirement.”
Coach McKinney has spent the last 50 years coaching at the high school and collegiate level. He took his first coaching job in 1959 at Qulin High School. After several successful years as a high school basketball coach in Missouri and Illinois, Coach McKinney made the jump to the collegiate level in 1978 when he became the head coach at Missouri Baptist University. During his tenure at Missouri Baptist, Coach McKinney compiled a 188-126 record and was named the Show-Me Conference Coach of the Year in 1983 and 1988.
In the fall of 1988, Fontbonne hired Coach McKinney as their athletic director and first head men’s basketball coach. Over the next 23 years, Coach McKinney compiled a 330-281 record with three SLIAC championships, five SLIAC Tournament championships and four appearances in the NCAA Division III National Tournament. He holds the SLIAC and Fontbonne record for most men’s basketball coaching victories.
“I would like to commend Coach McKinney on such a wonderful career as Fontbonne’s head men’s basketball coach,” Fontbonne athletic director Maria Eftink said. “Coach has solidified himself as the ‘rock’ of Fontbonne athletics. All of the success that the athletic department and men’s basketball teams have experienced is largely due to his leadership."
For his career, Coach McKinney has 805 career victories and 518 career collegiate wins. He was inducted into Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1992, the Missouri Baptist University Hall of Fame in 2003, Fontbonne University Hall of Fame 2000, St. Clair High School Hall of Fame in 1995 and St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) Hall of Fame in 2010. Coach McKinney was honored by the NCAA as a “Guardian of the Game” in 2002.