Atlantic Sun Liberty Lipscomb Basketball

Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay cuts down the net after beating Lipscomb in the Atlantic Sun NCAA college basketball tournament championship game Sunday, March 10, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. Liberty won 74-68. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Liberty men’s basketball coach Ritchie McKay met with university president Jerry Falwell Jr. and athletic director Ian McCaw in the days leading up to the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament to discuss the parameters of a contract extension.

The meeting lasted less than an hour. There was no back-and-forth discussion and no demands made during negotiations, according to Falwell.

McKay wanted to remain at Liberty. Falwell and McCaw ensured he was the man to guide the program for the foreseeable future.

Falwell announced Thursday afternoon McKay and Liberty agreed to a multi-year contract extension that will keep him in Lynchburg through the 2024-25 season.

“It’s all signed, sealed and delivered now,” Falwell said in a phone interview. “We’re thrilled he’s going to remain Liberty’s men’s basketball coach.”

The first year of the six-year extension begins with the upcoming season and replaces the final year of a five-year deal McKay signed when he returned to Liberty for the 2015-16 season.

McKay coached at Liberty for two seasons (2007-08 and 2008-09) before leaving to join Tony Bennett’s staff at Virginia as an associate head coach.

“I just think where we are and the stage of our program and my family’s life, this is where we’re supposed to be,” McKay said in a phone interview. “I’m honored that our administration supports and believes that we can advance it in the next stage of our growth.”

Financial details of the contract extension were not released. McKay made $643,701 in base salary and compensation for the 2016 calendar year, according to the university's most recent federal tax returns.

The contract extension was announced less than two weeks after McKay led the Flames to a program-record 29 victories and their first victory in the NCAA Tournament.

Liberty also claimed the A-Sun Tournament title with a road win at Lipscomb that secured the program’s fourth automatic berth into the Big Dance.

“It’s really elevated the program to a whole different sphere,” Falwell said. “… We worked for decades to make this happen, and it’s finally coming to fruition.”

McKay has a record of 124-82 in his six seasons coaching at Liberty and owns a career record of 289-240 in 16 seasons coaching at the Division I level. He has previously coached at Portland State, Colorado State, Oregon State and New Mexico.

“Coach McKay is an exceptional coach, recruiter and ambassador for Liberty basketball,” McCaw said in a text message. “The program is poised for much more success under his leadership.”

McKay said other schools contacted him about coaching jobs, but he chose to stay at LU. He did not reveal which schools contacted him.

According to McKay, the 12 years he has spent in Virginia — six at Liberty over two tenures and six more at UVa — helped him and his family feel comfortable remaining in the commonwealth.

“My wife, [Julie], and I said this feels like home,” McKay said. “I also think we get a chance to work at a place that’s not like anywhere I’ve been, from the faculty and staff [and] the student body. I just think it’s a unique place to be a part of a family.

“I just feel like at my stage in life, I’m probably more discerning than ever about where I am. Again, I feel privileged to be a part of Liberty and its university and its campus.”

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Damien Sordelett covers Liberty University athletics and local golf for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5550. Follow him on Twitter: @DamienSordelett

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