Longtime S&T coach, athletic director dies at age 88.
Billy Key, a member of Missouri S&T's Athletic Hall of Fame and longtime coach and director of athletics at the university, passed away on Friday, June 28, 2013 at the age of 88.
Key came to the university in 1964 to become the head men's basketball coach and four years later, was named to replace the legendary Gale Bullman as athletics director. He retired from coaching following the 1986-87 season with the most coaching wins in school history but remained as athletics director until retiring from that post on Jan. 1, 1991.
As men's basketball coach, Key compiled a record of 279-278 in his 23 seasons as head coach and had an all-time coaching record of 542-380, including his years as a high school coach at Wellsville and Monroe City High Schools in Missouri and at the collegiate level at Harris Teachers College – now Harris-Stowe State University – and Nicholls State University prior to becoming the Miners' head coach. After retiring as director of athletics, Key served as an assistant coach during the 1991-92 season at the University of Central Missouri.
A 1949 graduate of UCM, Key led the Miners to their first Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship in the 1975-76 season and to back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Division II Tournament. The Miners competed in regional tournaments at the University of North Dakota in 1975 and at Nicholls State after winning the MIAA title in 1976.
In his coaching career at S&T, Key coached two All-America players in Curtis Gibson and Duane Huddleston, three Academic All-America players (Ross Klie, Todd Wentz and Dave Moellenhoff) as well as Ken Stalling, the only player in Miner history to be selected in the National Basketball Association's annual player draft. Six individuals were also selected to all-district squads during Key's head coaching career.
During his tenure as director of athletics, Key led the university's program in a period of its greatest growth. The athletic program grew from nine men's sports when he took the position to 15 – including five women's teams – by 1991. The first women's teams were formed in 1974 with the addition of volleyball and basketball. S&T's softball program began in the 1980 season, followed by the addition of tennis, cross country, men's and women's soccer and women's track & field in the years to follow (the volleyball and tennis programs were discontinued prior to 1991; volleyball was reinstated in 2007).
Key earned numerous professional honors during his career, highlighted by a term as president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches during the 1986-87 season and serving on the NABC's Board of Directors, including a nine-year term as chairman of the All-America committee. Key received a resolution from the Missouri Senate and House of Representatives for his coaching and presidency of the NABC.
He has been inducted into four Halls of Fame, including being a charter member of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and MIAA Hall of Fame. Key is also a member of the Athletic Halls of Fame at Missouri S&T – which was started while he was director of athletics – and at Central Missouri, where he lettered in basketball, baseball and track & field.
Outside of coaching at the collegiate level, Key also assisted Larry Brown as coach of the North team that won the championship at the 1985 United States Sports Festival in Baton Rouge, La., and conducted clinics in Brazil through the Partners of the Americas program.
Key was a recipient of the Missouri School of Mines Alumni Merit Award in 1986 and also earned the Central Missouri Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1989.
A funeral service for Key will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at the First Baptist Church in Rolla. Interment will follow in the Pilot Knob Cemetery in rural Rolla. A visitation for family and friends will be held from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, July 2 at the First Baptist Church.
Memorial contributions are suggested to First Baptist Church of Rolla or the Billy Key Athletic Scholarship Fund at Missouri S&T.
Online condolences may be offered at www.nullandsonfuneralhome.com
All arrangements are under the direction of Null and Son Funeral Home of Rolla.