On June 9, 2008, Northwestern University Director of Athletics and Recreation Jim Phillips named Joe McKeown the head women's basketball coach at Northwestern. McKeown (pronounced Mick-Q-ann) is the sixth mentor to guide the Northwestern's women's basketball program.
During his time in Evanston, McKeown has transformed the culture of the women's basketball program while cementing his name as one of the winningest coaches in NCAA Division I Women's Basketball. With the second twenty-win season in the last three years in 2016-17, McKeown now has 658 career victories after 31 years as a head coach. Additionally, McKeown has guided the Wildcats to six winning seasons and amassed more wins in his first seven years with the program (108) than the previous 11 years before his arrival in Evanston (77 wins in 11 seasons; 1997-2008).
During his tenure, the Wildcats have established a number of program firsts, including Nia Coffey becoming the first freshman 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, Ashley Deary’s back-to-back Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2015-16 and 2016-17 and Amy Jaeschke becoming the first Wildcat to be selected in the WNBA Draft (2011 WNBA Draft). Additionally, the Wildcats had the best back-to-back seasons in nearly 15 years under McKeown's watch. Combined, the 2009-10 and 2010-11 campaigns yielded 37 victories, two postseason appearances and milestone wins over nationally-renowned programs Ohio State, LSU, and DePaul.
After the 2016-17 season, four-time All-Big Ten Selection Nia Coffey was selected in the WNBA Draft with the fifth overall pick by the San Antonio Spurs. McKeown helped Coffey become the second player in Wildcat history to be selected in the WNBA Draft and the highest pick in program history.
The Wildcats have also seen postseason success under McKeown as they have qualified for postseason play in five of the last nine years.
Before McKeown led Northwestern to the WNIT in 2009-10, just his second year with the program, NU had not made the postseason since 1997. That year, the Wildcats played George Washington University in the first round of the 1997 NCAA Tournament and at the time, McKeown coached against NU as he was head coach of the Colonials. NU’s postseason success developed following the 2014-15 season as the Wildcats made their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1997.
McKeown’s Wildcats have also seen success in the Big Ten Tournament, recently appearing in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals for two-consecutive years (2015, 2016). In 2016, the Wildcats won three games in the league tournament for the first time in program history.
McKeown has coached 11 players to multiple All-Big Ten honors, including Amy Jaeschke earning All-Big Ten honors each of her four years with the Wildcats. Jaeschke went on to become the first Wildcat selected in the WNBA draft as she was the 27th pick overall by the Chicago Sky.
Jaeschke turned in not only one of the best seasons in Wildcat annals, but also one of the most storied careers. In the Northwestern record books, she finished her career ranked first in blocks and second in scoring and in rebounding. Jaeschke also was tabbed an Associated Press honorable mention All-American, marking the first time since 1998 that a Wildcat appeared on the prestigious list. Nia Coffey has been named an AP honorable mention All-American twice in 2016 and 2017 and has four All-Big Ten first-team honors while Ashley Deary was named the program’s first Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2016. After repeating, Deary also became just the third player in Big Ten history to win the award back-to-back seasons.
The Wildcats entered the 2011-12 campaign following the best back-to-back seasons in nearly 15 years. Combined, the 2009-10 and 2010-11 campaigns yielded 37 victories, two postseason appearances and milestone wins over nationally-renown Ohio State, LSU and DePaul. Northwestern's improvement from 2008-09 (7-23) to 2009-10 (18-15) was tied for the 10th best turnaround in the nation and ranked fourth among BCS schools.
Several members of McKeown’s coaching staff have gone on to have success of their own as well. Allison Guth took over the head-coaching job at Yale prior to the 2015-2016 season. Shauna Green became the Dayton Flyers’ head coach prior to the 2016-2017 season. Before the 2017-2018 season, Sam Dixon was named the head coach at Nebraska Wesleyan.
Following the success of the Wildcats 2014-15 season, McKeown was selected to be the head coach of the USA representative to the World University Games held in Seoul, South Korea on July 5–13, 2015. The team won all six games, including the gold medal game against Canada. Prior to arriving at the World University Games, the USA squad visited and trained at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in South Korea.
McKeown joined the Wildcats following 19 years as the head coach at George Washington University, where he became one of the most respected names in women's college basketball. During the 2007-08 season, McKeown became the 34th head coach in Division I history to pass the 500-victory mark. He brought 509 career victories, a total which ranked 21st on the active Division I list, to Evanston.
McKeown left George Washington as the winningest coach in school history and in the Atlantic 10 Conference. In 28 seasons as a college head coach, McKeown has guided his team to postseason play 22 times. He coached the Colonials to 14 regular season or postseason Atlantic 10 crowns.
In his 19 seasons at George Washington, McKeown compiled a 441-154 record, with his 1997 squad reaching the Elite Eight. On three other occasions, the Colonials advanced to the Sweet Sixteen--1995, 2007 and 2008. In his 15 NCAA Tournament trips with GW, the Colonials won their first-round tournament game 13 times. McKeown is a five-time Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year (1991, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2007) and two-time National Coach of the Year nominee (1995, 1997). He was inducted into the George Washington Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.
After spending three seasons as the head coach at New Mexico State, where he went 68-20 and appeared in two NCAA tournaments, McKeown went to George Washington in September of 1989, inheriting a team that went 9-19 a year earlier. After his first squad went 14-14, McKeown quickly turned the Colonials into an elite women's college program with his teams averaging nearly 24 wins per year the next 18 seasons.
At GW, McKeown coached six Atlantic 10 Players of the Year. He also has mentored seven A-10 Rookies of the Year, five Defensive Players of the Year, five Sixth Players of the Year, 14 All-Rookie Team selections and 51 all-conference performers. McKeown has coached 16 players who have gone on to play professional basketball (four WNBA draft picks).
Equally as impressive as GW's success on the court was its outstanding performance in the classroom. During McKeown's tenure with the Colonials, George Washington players received Atlantic 10 Academic All-Conference recognition 17 times and eight players were named CoSIDA academic all-district selections (three Academic All-Americans). Of those eight, one was a Rhodes Scholar nominee and another received a Fulbright Scholarship. Other former student-athletes under McKeown's guidance include a GW School of Business Distinguished Scholar Award, an NCAA Woman of the Year representative and two Atlantic 10 Student-Athletes of the Year.
McKeown also is involved with USA Basketball, as he was named an assistant coach for the 2008 USA Basketball Women's U-18 National Basketball Team. He was also a floor coach for the 1992 Olympic team.
Prior to coaching at New Mexico State, McKeown served as an assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma from 1983-86, and at his alma mater, Kent State University, from 1979-80. Oklahoma posted at least 20 wins in each of McKeown's three years on the coaching staff.
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. His school-record 15 assists in a game still stands.
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.
McKeown and his family are heavily involved in the Autism Speaks Foundation, a national organization that creates awareness and raises money for the fight against autism. McKeown and his wife, Laura, have three children, Meghan, Joey and Ally.