The expected passing of the torch in Temple basketball coaching is indeed happening. The deal to have Fran Dunphy coach one more season and then have assistant Aaron McKie become head coach beginning in 2019-20 is official, the university said Wednesday.
According to a source, it will technically be a six-year deal for McKie. The first year, this coming season, he will be promoted from assistant coach to associate head coach, and then he’ll have a five-year contract as the head coach.
A Philadelphia high school star at Simon Gratz, McKie, 45, starred at Temple and then played 13 years in the NBA after being a first-round draft choice of Portland in 1994. After his playing career, which included parts of eight seasons with the 76ers, he was an assistant coach for six seasons with the Sixers. McKie was hired at Temple on Aug. 21, 2014.
“I feel great,” McKie said Wednesday by phone. “This is a dream come true.”
Temple has long meant a great deal to McKie, who played for Hall of Fame coach John Chaney.
“It’s an honor to coach at a school I once played for, where we had a Hall of Fame coach and my icon and hero, Coach Chaney,” McKie said. “To be able to walk in the footsteps of great coaches, with Coach Dunphy and the wonderful job he has done here, he is not only a great coach but a great person.”
Now, McKie will have a year to prepare for his first head-coaching job.
“It is different,” he said of the coach-in-waiting situation. “When you are an assistant coach, you are smart and have all the answers. I have never been a head coach before, and the ballgame will be much different.”
McKie says he has felt a sense of gratitude toward Temple since his days there as a student-athlete.
“I was a Prop 48 and sat out my first year,” he said. “Temple was my dream school, and they took a chance on me as a kid. My way of paying back was graduating in four years and trying to be the best citizen I could be.”
McKie, who averaged 17.9 points and scored 1,650 points in three seasons, earned a degree in social work.
Dunphy, who will turn 70 in October, just completed his 12th season at Temple after a 17-year run at Penn. Under Dunphy, the Owls competed in seven NCAA tournaments and two NITs. But the fan base became disgruntled since Temple has been to the NCAA just once in the last five seasons. This season, Temple went 17-16 and lost a first-round NIT game to eventual champion Penn State.
Dunphy has three years remaining on his contract, according to multiple sources. A school official said that it’s hoped Dunphy will remain affiliated with Temple after next season and that those discussions are ongoing.
“We have had a lot of discussions about what will happen, and I will look at every opportunity,” Dunphy said Wednesday. “My whole thought process is, we had a workout this morning and another on Friday, and all I am worried about is what will happen in 2018-2019.”
Of McKie, Dunphy said, “He is a good man, a good Temple man. He has done a lot for us the last four years and he really has a good understanding of what it takes to succeed in the college game.”
Temple was 33-32 over the last two years, but had several big wins. This season, the Owls beat three teams that ended in USA Today’s final Top 25: Clemson, Auburn and Wichita State.
Overall, Dunphy has a 557-315 record — 247-152 at Temple and 310-163 at Penn. He guided the Quakers to the NCAA tournament nine times. His NCAA tournament record is 3-16, including 2-7 at Temple.
The coaching staff is expected to remain intact beyond McKie’s promotion to associate head coach.