College Sports

Truman State men's basketball coach will take over at McKendree

Chris Foster, who has led the Truman State men's basketball team to an 83-40 record in the last four years, will be the new coach at McKendree University in Lebanon.
Chris Foster, who has led the Truman State men's basketball team to an 83-40 record in the last four years, will be the new coach at McKendree University in Lebanon.

Chris Foster, who guided the Truman State Bulldogs to the NCAA Division II Tournament and to the championship game of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament, has been hired as the new men's basketball coach at McKendree University.

The hiring was confirmed Thursday by a source in the McKendree athletics department who spoke on condition of anonymity. The move will be official Friday and Foster is expected to be introduced on the Lebanon campus next week, the source said.

Foster, 36, replaces Harry Statham, who was told March 6 that he would not be retained as coach. Statham, 80, was 1,122-513 in 52 seasons and is the winningest coach at any four-year school in the country.

The Bearcats, however, have endured six consecutive losing seasons, going 61-100 overall and 20-88 in the GLVC. McKendree was 12-16 and 3-15 this season.

McKendree transitioned to Division II from the NAIA after its final season in the American Midwest Conference in 2010-11. The Bearcats and Columbia College for years battled for supremacy in the AMC, with McKendree winning 11 regular-season championships.

Foster has coached at Truman State, located in Kirksville, Mo., for four seasons. His teams have won at least 20 games each year, with an overall record of 83-40 and a GLVC mark of 48-24. Foster is a native of Ironton, Mo.

Chris Foster.jpg
Chris Foster

The Bulldogs were 20-11 and 13-5 this season, losing 75-61 to rival Bellarmine in the conference tournament title game at Southern Illinois University's Vadalabene Center. Truman State also fell to Bellarmine 82-65 in the Midwest Regional of the Division II Tournament in Big Rapids, Mich.

Truman State averaged 83.8 points this season, which ranked second in the GLVC to William Jewell, and made 323 3-pointers, which was second in the league to Drury. Truman State also ranked second to William Jewell in free throws made (455).

Foster replaced Matt Woodley in August 2014 when Woodley left Truman State to become an assistant coach with the Iowa Energy, an NBA Developmental League program. Woodley was fired in January 2017 and spent this season as an assistant under Kevin Stallings at Pittsburgh. Stallings, a Collinsville High graduate, was fired at the end of the season.

Truman State won 22 games in Foster's third season, 2016-17, and made its first appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament in 11 years.

That year, the Bulldogs ranked first of 302 Division II teams in 3-point shooting efficiency at 42.9 percent (338 of 788). It was the best percentage at the school in 29 years. The team also led the country in points (2,777), points per game (86.8), field-goal percentage (49.9) and free-throw percentage (74.6).

Prior to landing at Truman State, Foster had two stints working at Northern Iowa, where he starred as a player from 2001-05.

Foster was named the video coordinator at Northern Iowa in December 2011 after serving as head coach at North County High and Jefferson High in St. Louis. Foster also was a graduate manager (2005), director of basketball operations (2006) and an assistant coach at Northern Iowa (2007).

Foster helped lead Northern Iowa, of the Missouri Valley Conference, to the NCAA Tournament in 2003 and 2004. He scored 1,027 points in his career and was a member of the all-freshman team in 2002. Foster graduated in 2005.

Foster and his wife, Kylie, have one son, Jase, and two daughters, Avery and Riley.

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665; @DavidMWilhelm
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