Keith Richard returned to his alma mater to become ULM’s seventh men’s basketball head coach on April 22, 2010. Now in his fifth season, Richard seeks to restore the rich tradition of the program -- something he knows very well.
Richard became the second ULM men’s basketball coach - joining Mike Vining - to have also been a student-athlete and an assistant coach for the program. He was with the Warhawks in both capacities for six of the program’s seven NCAA Tournament appearances in the 1980s and early 1990s.
In his first four seasons, Richard completely rebuilt the program academically. He was unable to carry a full scholarship roster when he took over at the helm due to APR penalties that he inherited. Since then, the NCAA has lifted all sanctions against the program due to its outstanding improvement.
Furthermore, the Warhawks won the SBC academic award for the second consecutive year in 2013-14. They once again posted the conference’s best cumulative grade-point average to earn the award.
ULM also earned back-to-back Team Academic Excellence Awards from the National Association of Basketball Coaches. In 2012-13, ULM was one of only 21 NCAA Division I men’s basketball programs to be honored for achieving a team cumulative GPA above 3.0. In 2013-14, the Warhawks were the only team in the Sun Belt Conference to earn the award and the only Division I institution in the state of Louisiana.
On the court, ULM showed significant improvement last season as it more-than doubled both its overall and conference win totals from the year before. It was the first time Richard was able to carry a full scholarship roster at ULM and he led the team to a No. 7 seed at the Sun Belt Championships, three spots ahead of where they were picked in the SBC Preseason Poll.
Richard coached Tylor Onwae to All-Conference Third-Team honors as he finished fourth in the league in scoring with 17.5 points per game. Ongwae became just the second-ever ULM student-athlete to earn All-Conference honors from the SBC since joining the league.
As a student-athlete at ULM, Richard bridged the transition from Lenny Fant to Benny Hollis to Vining. He played on Fant’s final team, played two seasons for Hollis and then completed his playing career on Vining’s first team. ULM won three Trans-America Athletic Conference championships during his four years and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 1982, the school’s first-ever appearance, and the NIT in 1979. He twice led the team in assists and was team captain in 1980-81 and 1981-82.
Following his playing career, Richard spent two seasons as a graduate assistant at ULM (1984-86) as his alma mater won the Southland Conference regular season and tournament titles in 1985, earning a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Richard moved on to Marshall University for three years from 1986-89, helping the Thundering Herd win two Southern Conference crowns and a Southern Conference tournament title. Marshall participated in the 1987 NCAA Tournament and the 1988 NIT while Richard was on staff.
He returned to ULM for the 1989-90 season, spending five seasons as an assistant coach. In those five years, ULM won four Southland Conference regular season championships, four Southland Conference tournaments and made four appearances in the NCAA Tournament (1990, 1991, 1993, 1994). He departed in 1994 to join the staff at Louisiana Tech.
In his first season at Louisiana Tech, Richard helped the Bulldogs to the second biggest turnaround in the nation as they won 14 games after winning just two in the season prior to his arrival.
The following year Richard was promoted from assistant coach to associate head coach, spending three seasons in that capacity. He helped the Bulldogs reach the championship game of the Sun Belt Tournament in 1997, the school’s first appearance in five seasons.
Richard became the head coach at Louisiana Tech prior to the 1998-99 season, guiding the Bulldogs for nine seasons. In his time at the helm of Louisiana Tech, Richard compiled a record of 150-117, the third-most wins in school history. In nine seasons, Richard had 11 players named all-conference, including three-time NCAA rebounding champion Paul Millsap, who went on to be drafted by the Utah Jazz. This season, Millsap will begin his ninth season in the NBA and the second with Atlanta Hawks.
During Richard’s tenure at Louisiana Tech, the Bulldogs went on the road and won money games against the likes of Auburn, Baylor, Memphis (coached by John Calipari) and Texas Tech (coached by Bob Knight).
In his first season as head coach, Louisiana Tech won the Sun Belt regular season championship. Richard was named Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year and two players, Lonnie Cooper and Craig Jackson, earned all-conference accolades.
The next year, Richard guided Louisiana Tech to a 21-win season, the school’s first of three 20-plus win seasons under Richard. Gerrod Henderson and Jackson earned All-Sun Belt honors that year, with Henderson named the Sun Belt’s Most Valuable Player.
In 2001-02, Louisiana Tech moved from the Sun Belt into the Western Athletic Conference, where Richard immediately turned the Bulldogs into a contender for the conference crown, posting a 22-10 overall record and 14-4 in conference play. Led by Henderon, who earned All-WAC honors, Richard’s Bulldogs earned a berth in the NIT, where they defeated Louisiana-Lafayette and Vanderbilt before falling to Villanova.
Richard took the Bulldogs to the postseason again during the 2005-06 season as Louisiana Tech won 20 games and earned a trip to the NIT. That year, Millsap was named as an All-WAC performer for the third consective season while also leading the nation in rebounding for the third-straight season.
In nine years as the head coach at Louisiana Tech, Richard’s teams posted a conference record of 90-60, going 32-14 in three seasons in Sun Belt and 58-46 in six years in the WAC. At ULM, Richard returns to the Sun Belt where he currently stands as the league’s 10th winningest coach in conference games, with a .696 winning percentage.
Prior to returning to guide his alma mater, Richard spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at LSU, where he helped the Tigers win the 2008-09 SEC regular season championship and reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to eventual national champion North Carolina.
Richard and his wife Holly have three children: sons Luke and Lance, and daughter Lexie. He earned a bachelor’s degree from ULM in 1982 and a master’s degree from ULM in 1986.
Richard’s Coaching Career:
2010-pr. – ULM (Head Coach)
2008-10 – LSU (Assistant Coach)
1998-07 – Louisiana Tech (Head Coach)
1995-98 – Louisiana Tech (Assistant Coach)
1989-94 – ULM (Assistant Coach)
1986-89 – Marshall (Assistant Coach)
1984-86 – ULM (Graduate Assistant Coach)