|Photo by Caleb Williams, d3photography.com|
Bill McKee, who spent the past four seasons as Augsburg College's women's basketball head coach during a lifetime of coaching the sport, passed away on Thursday morning, Aug. 27, 2015, after a battle with kidney cancer. He was 62 years old.
Hired at Augsburg in 2011, McKee led a turnaround of fortune for the Auggie women's basketball team, leading the Auggies to their first-ever Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference playoff berth this past season, claiming an upset victory at No. 3-seed Concordia-Moorhead in the first round.
The 2014-15 Auggies finished with a school-record 15 wins -- McKee's third double-digit victory campaign in his four seasons at Augsburg. He was 50-52 in his four seasons at Augsburg.
"The Augsburg College community mourns the loss of a great man," said Augsburg athletic director Jeff Swenson. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire McKee family for their loss. Bill had a tremendous impact on all of us at Augsburg, but also for so many people that he touched in his life. His coaching tenure at Augsburg speaks for itself, as he transformed our women's basketball program to a level not reached before in our history. But being a great coach is not his only legacy; being a great family man, colleague to all of us at Augsburg and a wonderful friend to everyone he knew is what he will be remembered for the most. We will miss him dearly."
"The impact of the loss of Coach McKee extends far beyond the Augsburg community and our women's basketball program, this is a sad day for the basketball world as a whole," said Joshua Hersch, who served as an assistant coach under McKee during his Augsburg years. "I will be forever grateful for the opportunity he gave me to join his staff, and the knowledge that he has shared with me over the years. In a relationship in which we started out as colleagues, things quickly turned into him serving as a mentor to me, and eventually ending in us becoming close friends. Bill has had such a positive impact on so many people's lives over the years, including my own. What he teaches truly extends far beyond the playing court. Coach McKee has been instrumental in a dramatic turnaround in our program over the past four seasons, and the team will strive to honor his life and legacy by working hard to sustain the excellence he has instilled. I will continue to keep his family in my thoughts and prayers. Today the world lost more than a great coach, they lost an amazing person."
Prior to coming to Augsburg, McKee served as head coach for the Mounds View High School girls' basketball program for three seasons (2008-11). Prior to coaching at Mounds View, he served as men's basketball head coach at Anoka-Ramsey Community College (2006-08), and as boys' basketball head coach at Blaine (2001-06) and Cretin-Derham Hall (1995-2001) high schools. He also served as a men's basketball assistant coach for 10 seasons at the University of St. Thomas.
As a high school coach, McKee earned section coach of the year honors five times, claiming dramatic turnarounds at each of his three schools. He led Mounds View to a 62-18 record in three seasons, guided Blaine to a conference title and state tournament berth, and led Cretin-Derham Hall to two conference titles and a state tournament berth.
He led Anoka-Ramsey to a No. 6 national ranking in the national junior college polls in his last season as coach there in 2007-08. As an assistant coach at St. Thomas, he was a part of six MIAC regular-season and four MIAC tournament title teams, as Tommie teams produced a 119-21 record during his tenure under head coach Steve Fritz.
McKee was a team captain for both the basketball and track and field teams during his playing days at St. Thomas, as a member of four MIAC championship and three NAIA District 13 playoff title teams. The Tommie basketball team finished 59-5 in MIAC play during his four seasons.
He earned his bachelor's degree in sociology from St. Thomas in 1974 and later earned his master's degree in educational psychology from St. Thomas. Outside of coaching, McKee worked for the Ramsey County Corrections department for 35 years.
Bill and his wife Andrea had three children, Annie, Phil and Allison. Allison will be a senior at Augsburg this year.
The family has designated the Annie E. McKee Trust for memorial contributions. Donations should be made payable to: Annie E. McKee Trust, c/o Andrea D. McKee, trustee, 1621 Sioux Blvd., New Brighton, MN, 55112.