KIRKWOOD, Mo. — Kirkwood High School has a new boys’ basketball coach.
Former Mizzou star, Jimmy McKinney, was named head coach Friday afternoon.
He’s known for his stellar prep career at Vashon before going on to play professional basketball overseas. McKinney doesn’t have any head coaching experience, but he said he has plenty of basketball knowledge.
“I played under the best coaches probably in the country, which is Floyd Irons on the high school level and Quin Synder who’s one of the best NBA coaches right now,” McKinney said.
It goes without saying Vashon played a huge role in McKinney becoming the man he is today. He said parting ways with the Vashon program was one of the hardest things he’s had to do, but that he’ll do his best to teach his new players everything he learned.
“Vashon is probably one of the best programs in the country,” McKinney said. “Vashon taught me how to conduct yourself, a way of life, Vashon taught me how to be a man.”
Now McKinney said he is hoping to bring Kirkwood some championships and pick up where Bill Gunn left off.
“If I was going somewhere other than Vashon, it’d have to be Kirkwood because of the support and the things they have surrounding the basketball program,” Mckinney said.
Previous coach suspended
This hire comes after former coach Bill Gunn was suspended and then his contract wasn’t renewed after controversy.
Gunn had been the coach since 2006 and won one district championship, which was in 2009.
Last season, he was suspended for one year for his involvement in a group chat where other coaches talked about one of the players, after the player posted some comments on social media about coaching. Gunn said he didn’t actually say anything about the player – but was held accountable since he was head coach.
Gunn was promised if he completed a checklist of things, he would get his job back. He complied, and then Kirkwood opened the coaching position internally one year after Gunn was suspended. He applied and got his old job back. His position was signed off by the school’s athletic director and principal and was set to reach the school board for approval.
That’s when things got tricky – the coronavirus halted the school board from approving any coaching positions due to the uncertain status of high school sports. While Gunn waited on the school board to make a final decision, Jeremy Jones, a beloved Kirkwood fan, let it be known he and some other community members weren’t happy about the rehire.
“We felt Gunn was not fit to be head coach, based on wins and losses alone,” Jones said.
Jones and several supporters in the Kirkwood community sent countless emails to the Kirkwood School District begging them to open the coaching position and to reconsider hiring Gunn as the boys’ head basketball coach.
“We haven’t had a Black basketball or football coach since 1993, we needed change,” Jones said. “The girls’ program changed their head coach, they won titles.”
5 On Your Side reached out to the Kirkwood School District about the decision to hire Gunn and not open the position to the public in May, we did not hear back.
Cindy Nelson in human resources told Jones on May 21, “the head boys basketball coach position is not open at this time so we are unable to accept an application for the person you mentioned.”
After several more attempts to reach Kirkwood, 5 On Your Side did not get a response.
After a few weeks of going back and forth with Jones and company, Kirkwood ultimately decided to go in another direction, informing Gunn he was no longer the head coach.
5 On Your Side again reached out to Kirkwood for a comment on why they hired Gunn, then changed their minds, they have yet to respond.
Bill Gunn was asked for a comment regarding the matter but said he could not speak on the situation right now.