McKeown inks multi-year extension at Northwestern

Northwestern head women’s basketball coach Joe McKeown has signed a multi-year contract extension through the 2024-25 season with the University, Combe Family Vice President for Athletics & Recreation Derrick Gragg announced.
“We are excited to keep Coach McKeown at the helm of Northwestern women’s basketball,” said Gragg. “Over more than a decade leading our Wildcats, he has built a program that excels academically, competes for championships on the court, and prepares student-athletes for lifelong success. In just the last two years his program won a Big Ten title, advanced in the NCAA Tournament, had a WNBA draft selection and an Olympian. Our entire Northwestern community looks forward to continuing that ascent with Joe on the sideline at Welsh-Ryan Arena.”
“I’m really grateful to Dr. Gragg and Northwestern for the confidence that they showed in me and my family,” said McKeown. “It’s an honor to coach at such a great university and in the Big Ten Conference. We’ve been very fortunate to have built a great program, including Top 25 teams, NCAA Tournament teams and Big Ten champions. More importantly, we have done it with incredible student-athletes and commitment from our administration and the leadership of Janna Blais, Deneé Barracato and President Shapiro. We’re really excited about the future of women’s basketball at Northwestern.”
Entering his 14th season at the helm of Northwestern, McKeown has transformed the culture of the women’s basketball program, consistently bringing in some of the top student-athletes in the nation while cementing his name as one of the winningest coaches in NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball. In 35 seasons as a head coach, McKeown has racked up 733 wins, including a 224-186 record in his last 13 seasons with Northwestern which places him with the second-most wins in program history behind Don Perrelli (251 wins in 15 seasons). The Wildcats have also seen consistent postseason success under McKeown, having qualified for postseason play in seven of the last 12 years. 
Most recently in 2020-21, McKeown guided Northwestern to its second NCAA Tournament appearance during his tenure, as well as the 19th NCAA Tournament appearance of his career. As a No. 7 seed, the Wildcats advanced to the second round of the Big Dance for the first time in 28 years with a 62-51 win over UCF. Led by an elite core of returning talent that included multi-year All-Big Ten honorees Lindsey Pulliam, Veronica Burton and Sydney Wood, it marked the first time since 1992 and 1993 that Northwestern earned consecutive top-five Big Ten finishes.
The Wildcats have been represented on the international stage under McKeown. This summer saw alumna Pallas Knuiah Akpanah make her Olympic debut with Nigeria in the 2020 Olympic Games, while Burton won gold with Team USA at the 2021 AmeriCup. McKeown coached USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team to a gold in 2015, his second stint with USA Basketball aftere serving as a court coach for the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.  
McKeown led the Wildcats to a historic 2019-20 campaign, most notably capturing the program’s second-ever Big Ten regular season title, Northwestern’s first in 30 years. He was named as Big Ten Coach of the Year following NU’s tremendous run, becoming the first NU coach to earn the honor since Perelli in 1990. The Wildcats’ record-breaking 26 wins overall and 16 in conference play placed McKeown into elite coaching company as he was named as one of four finalists for the Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year.
Under his tutelage in 2019-20, McKeown saw three players earn all-conference honors, including Pulliam and Abi Scheid named to the All-Big Ten First Team with Pulliam recognized as a unanimous selection, while Burton was named to the second team. It marked the first time in program history that three players were selected to the first two All-Big Ten Teams. Burton was also named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year following both the 2020 and 2021 seasons, joining fellow Wildcat Ashley Deary (2016, 2017) as one of just five players in conference history to have won the honor twice.
During McKeown’s tenure, the Wildcats have established a number of program firsts, including Nia Coffey becoming the first first-year in program history to be named First Team All-Big Ten during the 2013-14 campaign, Maggie Lyon’s crowning as the 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Deary’s back-to-back Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors and Amy Jaeschke becoming the first Wildcat to be selected in the WNBA Draft as the 27th pick overall by the Chicago Sky (2011). Since Jaeschke, McKeown has seen two additional players selected in the WNBA Draft–with Coffey being selected fifth overall by the San Antonio Stars in 2017 and Pulliam being picked 27th overall by the Atlanta Dream.
McKeown came to Northwestern in 2008 following a historic 19-year campaign as the head coach at George Washington. In his 19 seasons at GW, McKeown compiled a 441-154 record which included 15 trips to the NCAA Tournament, five Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year awards and four Sweet Sixteen appearances, most notably in 1997 when his squad reached the Elite Eight. He was inducted into the George Washington Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012. Prior to his time at George Washington, McKeown spent three seasons as the head coach at New Mexico State, where he went 68-20 and appeared in two NCAA Tournaments.
As a player, McKeown earned Junior College National Small Player of the Year honors at Mercer College in Trenton, N.J. He helped the team to a 33-1 record and a spot in the NJCAA championship game. McKeown transferred to Kent State the following season, where he was co-captain of the Golden Flashes as a senior and earned honorable mention All-Mid-American Conference honors.
A proud native of Philadelphia, McKeown was inducted into the Father Judge High School Hall of Fame, a prestigious member of the Philadelphia Catholic League, in 1999. He and his entire family–his wife, Laura, and children Meghan, Joey and Ally–have also been very active in the local community. The Wildcats have hosted annual Field Trip Days for local schools and are heavily involved in the Autism Speaks Foundation, a national organization that creates awareness and raises money for the fight against autism.

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