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Celebrating Head Coach Bob McKillop

by | Feb 13, 2023

Former head coach Bob McKillop made remarks at a ceremony celebrating his 33 years leading the Davidson Wildcats men basketball program.


The day finally arrived. Saturday afternoon fans poured into Belk Arena for the men’s basketball game vs. Fordham. When the game ended, most of the fans remained in their seats. Many of fans in Belk Arena were there to honor former Head Coach Bob McKillop on the occasion of the celebration of his retirement.

The teams cleared the floor, and soon staff members began to set up seats on the floor. Some folks who had been in the audience – many of them taller than other fans in the crowd – began to file onto the floor. It was readily apparent that more chairs were needed, and more chairs appeared.

The group of former Wildcat basketball players.

For 33 years, Bob McKillop coached, led, and choreographed the men’s basketball team at Davidson. He did so on, and most importantly, off the court. His was a leadership style that epitomized the college’s call to “lives of leadership and service.”

Athletic Director Chris Clunie, himself one of McKillop’s former scholar-athletes, opened the ceremony and introduced Davidson College president Doug Hicks.

Clunie followed Hicks for a longer tribute to his former Head Coach. Those remarks were followed by a tribute video that was played on the big screens at either end of the arena.

Then it was time for Coach McKillop’s remarks, but he had to wait for the standing ovation to end. His comments began with profuse gratitude for the support that he received from the community over the years. He singled out the fans, alumni, faculty, administrators, and staff for their support.

President Doug Hicks ’90

The event ended with the presentation of several gifts. Chris Clunie first detailed a gift to Cathy McKillop – a one year subscription from the Davidson Flower Company – flowers will be delivered weekly.  The second gift was a watch inscribed with McKillop’s motto “Trust. Commitment. Care.” The final gift was a piece of commissioned artwork.

Recent Davidson graduate Marquia Humphries created a multi-media portrait of the iconic coach. She positioned his portrait between a bigger than life-size basketball and the phrase “Trust. Commitment. Care.” She added an important detail – 33 pennies at the top of the basketball. That detail stemmed from a comment that McKillop made about a post-game routine. Clunie described it this way, “After games he would have players place a penny in a jar and share one thing that they did well during the game – regardless of what was on the scoreboard.” The story resonated with Marquia, and she placed one penny for each of McKillop’s 33 years at the top of the basketball.

And while Coach’s most famous player wasn’t there in person, Stephen Curry, along with Jason Richards, narrated a tribute video that was played during the ceremony.

Want to watch the celebration? The album will take you to a set of four video clips of the ceremony.

Photos from the event can be seen here.

McKillop embraced (artist in residence) Marquia Humprhies ’22.

News of Davidson has featured Bob McKillop in articles on numerous occasions since our founding. In 2021, during COVID, did a “virtual sit down” interview with him when he reached 600 wins – that was 600 wins at Davidson.

A year ago, we published an article highlighting that Davidson’s Town Board honored Bob McKillop. The proclamation came just slightly more than a week after McKillop’s 1000th game at Davidson. Instead of a big celebration on the court, named for him following that game (Jan. 29, 2022), McKillop stood in the background as Wildcat fans honored Charles “Lefty” Driessell and Terry Holland.

That proclamation contained just a few of the amazing details of his previous 32 seasons as Davidson’s head coach. One of the “whereas statements” was the following: “. . . since Bob McKillop became the Wildcats’ Head Coach there have been 7 U.S. Presidents, 5 Davidson College Presidents, and 4 Mayors of Davidson; and. . .” You can read the article and the full resolution here.

Chris Clunie ’06 – former McKillop player, now Athletic Director.

We close by noting that when you search the Davidson website, and land on the “about” page you find the following:

“Davidson’s primary purpose is to help students develop humane instincts and disciplined, creative minds for lives of leadership and service in an interconnected and rapidly changing world. We don’t just prepare students for the world, we prepare them to make it better.”

What was repeated throughout the Retirement Celebration for Bob McKillop was that he played a significant role in preparing the scholar-athletes on his teams to make the world better.

We add our thanks to all that former Head Coach Bob McKillop did to make our community and our world a better place. We are glad that Coach isn’t leaving our community as he has stepped into the role of Leader in Residence.

Thank you, Coach!

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