The world of collegiate sports was saddened to learn last week that Gene Kenney, legendary former Michigan State University men’s soccer coach and assistant athletic director died at the age of 94, as Lansing NBC affiliate WILX reported.
Having led the Spartan soccer team for an impressive 14 seasons between the years of 1956-69, Kenney amassed an incredible 120-13-13 career record, making him the second winningest coach in NCAA history, and ultimately retired from the university as an assistant director in the athletic department back in 1994.
The soccer coaching standout was born in Urbana, Illinois, the son of well-known wrestling coach Harold Kenney, and he went on to graduate in 1950 from the University of Illinois, according to local sports news source The News-Gazette.
From there, Kenney went on to accept his first coaching job, working as an assistant with the wrestling squad at the University of North Carolina, ultimately moving to soccer when the school’s head coach fell ill and a replacement was needed.
Also a veteran of the U.S. military, Kenney’s service included two years as an Army officer stationed in Korea, during which time he coached a series of armed forces soccer teams.
After leaving the service, Kenney secured employment at Michigan State, starting out as a wrestling coach as well as a physical education instructor, as the News-Gazette further noted.
Cementing his status as one of the top collegiate soccer coaches in the sport’s history, Kenney once assembled a streak in which Spartan men’s teams appeared in eight NCAA championship tournaments in a row.
After he retired from coaching, Kenney was named the assistant athletic director for facilities at Michigan State in 1970, and during his tenure, he led the construction of the university’s ice arena as well as the Breslin Student Event Center, which is home court for the school’s highly-regarded basketball team.
There can be no doubt about the indelible mark Kenney left for the benefit of generations of Spartan fans, past, present, and future, and his legacy will most certainly live on in East Lansing for decades to come.