Everyone at UNC Wilmington remembered the first time Coach Keatts led our basketball team to our first Colonial Athletic Association [CAA] tournament win since 2000 and then to our first attempt at the National Collegiate Athletic Association [NCAA] in years. We had a serious love for our new coach, who had only been an assistant coach prior to working at UNCW. Bobble heads and posters reading #InKeattsWeTrust were made in celebration, and when we made it to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row, it felt as though school spirit and the prospect of a large presences of sports could actually grow at a university that usually lacks in those areas.
Coach Keatts in Trask Coliseum, coaching the UNCW men’s basketball team.
[Photo courtesy of Getty Images]
Even though we may have lost in the first round of the NCAA for the second year in a row, it felt as though our team stood a chance at improving and becoming a contender in athletics. However, that changed as soon as it was announced that Keatts would be leaving UNCW for another North Carolina university: NC State University.
Now, do not get me wrong, I hold no animosity toward Keatts. I am happy to see that he is moving up in the world; I am proud to hear that he is going from a salary in the hundreds of thousands to the millions. Like, I want that kind of salary. However, I really wish he would have chosen a school more than two hours away from our university.
Being raised by parents who went to Kansas and having had a sister who attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I know the animosity between those two schools. It was due to Coach Roy Williams leaving a coaching position at KU to coach at UNC. Those schools are states apart.
Keatts, already in NCSU red, is set to start coaching State’s basketball team for the 2017-2018 school year.
[Photo courtesy of Lumina News]
Now, I am in no way saying that UNCW and NCSU are equals and could have a rivalry like that; the CAA is not a super competitive league. However, it always leaves a bad taste in your mouth when a good coach leaves, and that is just amplified now that he is so close by– two and a half hours to be exact.
Nevertheless, I wish him the best. I hope he revamps NCSU’s basketball team, because gosh do they need it. And I also hope that this can lead to some friendly competition between UNCW and NCSU– depending on if our schools both make it into the NCAA in the future. It may be possible with some of the individuals speculated to be taking Keatts’ place! **Hint: one is an assistant coach for Williams at UNC.
And I do have hope that our school can continue to grow our basketball program, but even if that is not the case, I am proud to be a Seahawk! Even though you will be leaving for another in-state school, I wish you the best Keatts and thank you for what you have done for this school. But be ready to battle some Seahawks in the future.
If you would like to read Keatts’ letter to the school and student body in Wilmington’s local newspaper, check it out here!