Three weeks ago, Kim Anderson was a basketball coach without a program. He’d been asked to step down from his dream job after three seasons at Missouri.
Monday was a much brighter day despite overcast skies.
Anderson, 61, was introduced as the 15th full-time head coach at Pittsburg State, a Division II program in southeast Kansas, during a morning news conference at John Lance Arena/Whetzel Court.
“A lot of people had me retiring,” said Anderson, who is 301-163 in 15 seasons as a head coach at Central Missouri and Mizzou. “The one person that didn’t have me retiring was my wife (Melissa). She did not want me sitting around, and I did not want to be sitting around.”
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
He won’t be sitting around in Pittsburg, where the program went 5-22 last season.
“This is an exciting moment in the proud history of Gorilla men’s basketball,” Pittsburg State associate athletic director for communications Dan Wilkes said.
The most poignant moment of the news conference came when Anderson acknowledged his predecessor, Kevin Muff, who resigned March 7 after seven seasons at Pitt State.
“I think we owe a debt of gratitude to Kevin Muff,” Anderson said, choking up. “I know … I know how hard it is when someone loses his job, especially a good person. As we go forth and I deal with these guys, I thank him.
“He’s a friend. Obviously, we competed with each other a little bit before I went to Mizzou, so I think we need to recognize what he did for this institution.”
Anderson was 27-68 in three seasons at Missouri, but he went 274-95 in 12 seasons with Central Missouri before that.
Central Missouri and Pittsburg State are rivals in the MIAA.
Anderson led the Mules to the NCAA Division II Final Four in 2007, 2009 and 2014, winning the national title in that last appearance a few weeks before being tapped as the Tigers’ new coach to succeed Frank Haith.
Anderson’s teams won at least 20 games seven times in his last 10 seasons at Central Missouri, including three seasons with at least 30 wins, and seven Division II tourney appearances.
The Mules finished third or better nine times during that span, winning five MIAA regular-season titles.
“Why Pittsburg State?” Anderson asked rhetorically. “Why not?”
Anderson said he and his wife were impressed by an initial meeting with Gorillas athletic director Jim Johnson and Pitt State specialist assistant to the president Kendall Gammon, a 15-year NFL veteran who made the Pro Bowl in 2004 as the Chiefs’ long snapper.
Anderson called the decision “a no-brainer.” He was looking for a university with great leadership, for the school and within the athletic department, along with a great academic reputation and strong history of athletic success.
Anderson also wanted a place with strong community involvement.
Pittsburg State checked all those boxes, and he’s looking forward to his first football tailgate next fall at “mini Arrowhead Stadium.”
Anderson also was impressed with the facilities improvement in recent years and Pitt State’s available resources.
“I stole one thing from the University of Missouri — OK, I stole a lot of things,” Anderson said. “No, I didn’t take anything. I turned everything back in, but the one thing that we always talked about there” was academic success, social responsibility and competitive excellence.
Anderson said the core tenets of his program — passion, integrity, honesty, life balance and appreciation — remain unchanged.
“What you need to walk out of here remembering today … is he’s a proven winner,” Johnson said. “Players love to play for him, coaches love to coach for him, and fans love to cheer for him.”