Bob McKillop Brings Hardwood Know-How to Off-the-Court Leadership Role

Bob McKillop smiles

Bob McKillop begins a new chapter with Davidson College in a role that draws upon his 30-plus years of expertise as a coach, mentor and leader in his field.

Bob McKillop has taught or spoken about leadership, in addition to demonstrating it on the basketball court, throughout his 33-year career at Davidson. Now, he is turning that experience and success into a new role as Davidson’s first Leader-in-Residence.

His first weeks in this position already have him speaking about leadership to multiple Davidson classes, student organizations and teams, and lecturing to corporate and civic audiences. When he was still head coach, he spoke to business and civic organizations. He took his team to Auschwitz on a trip to learn history, not play basketball. He talked to a Shakespeare class about how sports are interwoven in the playwright’s works, and to a psychology class that evolved into a debate over analytics and data versus instinct.

“Davidson prepares students for lives of leadership and service,” said Davidson College President Doug Hicks. “Bob has provided leadership as our winningest coach, has guided scholar-athletes in learning leadership through teamwork, and routinely is called upon to help organizations within and outside Davidson in examining and developing leadership skills. Now we have the terrific opportunity for him to help us and represent us in this field.

McKillop will speak and write about leadership for students, faculty and staff, alumni, friends of Davidson College, and public groups, Hicks said. McKillop’s role also may include mentoring students or alumni interested in developing leadership competencies, and he may represent the college in engaging alumni at events and meetings.

“I’m excited and honored to start this new chapter,” McKillop said. “It’s a fascinating role that will touch all facets of Davidson: students, faculty, alumni, the community. And it’s an opportunity to use platforms outside of the college to speak about the unique qualities, the excellence, the intimacy that is Davidson and separates us from other institutions.”

McKillop stepped down from his role as head coach in June after 23 conference championships, 10 NCAA tournament appearances and more than 600 wins. He is a nominee for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Translating the wider value of what happens on a hardwood court to analysts at Ernst & Young or lawyers from a 250-attorney firm, both of whom McKillop has addressed, is natural, he said. The foundation of his program at Davidson—trust, commitment and care—cut across all endeavors, and his best known player, Stephen Curry ’10, provides high profile proof.

“Basketball is life,” McKillop said. “The things that happen on the court or in the locker room, such as learning to work as a team, recovering from setbacks, figuring out a different approach—it’s all just like life.”