SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Kerry Keating wasn't going to leave
UCLA for just any head coaching job. For him, the circumstances had
to be the right fit.
Keating found it at Santa Clara after dining with university
president Paul Locatelli last week.
Keating, who was formally introduced as head coach at Santa
Clara on Monday, acknowledged being torn about leaving the Bruins
to replace Dick Davey, the Broncos' legendary coach who retired at
the end of this past season following a 15-year career at the
"It was going to take something very special to get me to leave
something I had worked so hard for at UCLA," Keating said during a
45-minute speech to boosters and media. "This had to be better
than that for me personally to leave."
Keating, who at 35 is the youngest head coach in the West Coast
Conference, served as assistant and top recruiter at UCLA for four
seasons, including the Bruins' back-to-back runs to the Final Four
in 2006-07. UCLA posted a 91-41 record during his tenure.
Leaving the Bruins and good friend Ben Howland, UCLA's head
coach, wasn't something Keating expected to do. He wasn't convinced
he would until meeting with Locatelli for dinner last Wednesday.
"I didn't even have a chance to take a bite of the salad yet
and Father Locatelli said, 'You coming? Because we're ready to get
this thing done."' Keating recalled. "That excited me, and it
really resonated with me when I did go home and sleep on it. To
know that the people ahead of you share the same type of
competitive spirit is really important to me because that is what
drives me every day."
Keating becomes the 14th head coach for the Broncos in the
team's 100-year history, and only the fifth head coach since Bob
Feerick led the program in 1950.
Davey, the WCC coach of the year, led the Broncos to three
straight WCC championships in the mid-1990s and a 251-190 overall
record in 15 seasons. He served as assistant coach for 15 years
before taking the head coaching job, where he became known for his
personable style and argyle sweaters.
Keating got his start as a student assistant coach at Seton Hall
in 1993. He worked in various assistant positions at Wake Forest,
Appalachian State, Vanderbilt, Tulsa and Tennessee before joining
With the Bruins, he was responsible for recruiting most of the
players who helped form the heart of UCLA's deep runs in the NCAA
"Kerry embodies so much of what we were looking for in a new
head coach," said Dan Coonan, Santa Clara's athletic director.
"His reputation as a recruiter doesn't do justice to what the
reality is. We were looking for someone who is a lights-out
recruiter who did it the right way, and that's absolutely what we
"Five minutes into the interview, I wanted to hire him," he
added. "Ten minutes into the interview, I wanted to play for him.
Rest assured, he'll recruit better athletes than me."
Keating promised to have the Broncos playing defense similar to
the up-tempo, physical man-to-man style favored by Howland and
"I'd be a fool not to take from the strong," Keating said.
"[Howland's] attention to detail is legendary and will help us
here. [Defense] is going to be the basis of how we play."
Keating also named Sam Scuilli, Lamont Smith and Sam Scholl as
assistants. Sciulli was an assistant under Davey for the past seven