MANHATTAN — Larned native Gene Keady, a Kansas State graduate, was featured during a halftime segment of the Wildcats’ basketball exhibition against Fort Hays State Friday. Keady was also introduced on the field during the K-State and Baylor football game last week.
Keady is a college basketball, NJCAA basketball and Kansas Sports Hall of Fame coach who led Purdue for 25 years.
Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber served as an assistant coach for 18 years for Keady at Western Kentucky and Purdue until Weber landed the Southern Illinois-Carbondale job in 1998. Weber also coached at the University of Illinois.
“Bruce is a great basketball coach and a very detailed guy,” Keady said. “He’s one of the best assistants I ever knew.”
Because of a scheduling conflict, Keady missed Weber’s job interview, and assistant coach Clem Haskins stepped in to talk to Weber for an assistant’s coaching job.
“I didn’t show up for the interview. Clem recommended I hire him because he really liked that guy,” Keady said. “It turned out to be great for both of us.”
Keady likes K-State’s basketball team that features St. John all-stater Dean Wade.
“I’ve watched practices and I like their team,” he said. “They are going to be fun to watch all year. They are going to win.”
Keady agrees with the officiating adjustments employed in exhibition games. Timeouts are limited, the 5-second count is no longer used and excessive defensive play will be called as fouls.
“Anything that opens up the game for the offenses is good,” he said.
Keady has kept involved as a consultant at St. John’s (NY) after he left Purdue in 2005.
“I miss the practices and the teaching part of it,” he said.
Keady was a three-sport athlete at Kansas State, playing football, track and baseball. He played football for coach Bus Mertes at K-State.
“Playing football at K-State was great,” Keady said. “Bus Mertes was a great coach and I enjoyed it here very much. Kansas State is a lot like Purdue with great fans. We wished we could’ve won more games.”
Keady said playing two sports at the major-college level would be a challenge. But some athletes have accepted the challenge.
“I don’t know why they couldn’t. Nothing is holding them back. I had several players at Purdue play two sports,” Keady said. “It takes time and effort to play two sports.”
Keady is also proud of how K-State coach Bill Snyder has transformed the football program into a competitive team.
“It’s been great to watch what coach Snyder has done in football. It’s unbelievable,” he said. “He’s a great, great coach. When they replace him, it’ll be a hardship.”