The Metro Legends Award is awarded annually to a local coach or athletic director who has devoted his/her life to leading young men and women to success through successful experiences as an athlete within their programs. Ray Cliffe, long-time Southwestrern High School football coach, was the first recipient of this award.
METRO LEGENDS AWARD
Lee McKinney spent 50 years coaching at the high school and collegiate level in Missouri and Illinois. After several successful years as a high school basketball coach, he jumped to the collegiate level in 1978 when he became the head coach at Missouri Baptist, where he had a 188-126 record and was named the Show-Me Conference Coach of the Year in 1983 and 1988.
In the fall of 1988, Fontbonne hired McKinney as its athletic director and first head men’s basketball coach. Over the next 23 years, he compiled a 330-281 mark (a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record record), including three St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships, five SLIAC Tournament titles and four appearances in the NCAA Division III National Tournament.
Overall, McKinney has 805 career victories and 518 collegiate wins. He was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1992, the Missouri Baptist University Hall of Fame in 2003, the Fontbonne University Hall of Fame 2000, St. Clair High School Hall of Fame in 1995 and the SLIAC Hall of Fame in 2010.
McKinney also spent 23 years as Fontbonne’s director of athletics. During that time, Griffin athletics grew from three teams and 19 student-athletes when he arrived in 1988 to 19 teams and more than 350 student-athletes when he retired. McKinney also helped charter the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in 1989. During his years of service to the Conference, McKinney chaired the SLIAC Administrative Council and served on the NCAA Management Council, Financial Aid Committee and Nominating Committee.
McKinney was honored by the NCAA as a “Guardian of the Game” in 2002. In 2009, the SLIAC established the Lee McKinney Distinguished Service Award, presented annually to the SLIAC individual who best exemplifies the qualities of leadership, dedication, service and perseverance displayed by McKinney.
McKinney died last April after a third battle with cancer.