Coach Bob McKillop leaves Davidson: During the famous 33-year term, he made the Wildcats a middle power

Coach Bob McKillop leaves Davidson: During the famous 33-year term, he made the Wildcats a middle power

Davidson basketball coach Bob McKillop announced his retirement on Friday after a 33-year career in which he transformed the Wildcats into one of the top mid-major schools in NCAA basketball. McKillop, 71, has a 634-380 record and will retire following his 10th NCAA Tournament appearance with Davidson in the 2021-22 season.

“We did our due diligence, and after that process it only validated what we already knew,” Davidson athletic director Chris Clunie said. “There was no better person primed take Davidson basketball to the next level.”

McKillop’s son, Matt McKillop, has spent the past 14 seasons on Davidson’s staff after a four-year playing career under his father.

Though Davidson’s head coaching position is remaining in the McKillop family, the transition marks a significant shakeup in the Atlantic 10 after the Wildcats won the league with a 27-7 (15-3 A-10) record last season before suffering a 74-73 loss to Michigan State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Though Bob McKillop’s impact on college basketball has been extensive since he took over in 1989 after a decade at Long Island Lutheran High School, he is best known by many for his role as Stephen Curry’s college coach. The 2022 NBA Finals MVP and eight-time All-Star played three seasons at Davidson, averaging 25.3 points on 41.2% 3-point shooting during his tenure with the Wildcats.

Under Bob McKillop’s watch, Davidson won 11 SoCon regular-season titles and seven SoCon Tournament titles before transitioning to the Atlantic 10 for the 2014-15 season. Since the move, the Wildcats have won an additional two regular-season titles and the 2018 A-10 Tournament. The elder McKillop is a 10-time conference coach of the year and already has the court at Davidson named in his honor.

During Curry’s sophomore season in 2007-08, Davidson reached the Elite Eight as a No. 10 seed, marking the program’s deepest ever NCAA Tournament run. But even after Curry’s departure for the NBA, the Wildcats remained a force in college basketball by making five Big Dance appearances in the years since.

Friday’s announcement from Davidson was advertised as a news conference regarding Curry. The school did reveal plans to celebrate Curry’s induction into its athletics hall of fame later this year, but then Bob McKillop revealed his plan to step down as he choked back tears.

“Did you see Steph after the game last night?” he said. “He was crying. Crying. Tears. I thought that was a message to me that it was OK to cry today. I read one time that tears are a gift from God. Tears show that your heart can be touched. I think you know how my heart has been touched by Davidson.”

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