Earlier this spring, a Brother from Franklin College of Indiana was named Indiana State’s ninth head coach for the women’s basketball program.
Chad Killinger (’97) has worked his way to the Division 1 level of collegiate head coaching. It was not easy, taking him 25 years to reach this point.
“Basketball was always my favorite sport growing up,” Killinger said. “I can remember in high school sitting in study hall drawing up plays talking basketball with the boy’s basketball coach. I watched the NCAA tournament growing up, and I was more focused on the coaches and what they were doing and the adjustments they were making. It got to a point one time when I wasn’t even rooting for teams but the coach.”
Killinger began his coaching career while he was an active SAE at Franklin College. He was a student assistant and volunteer assistant. While working for his Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education with an emphasis in Athletic Training, he was a coach for the Bloomington Red AAU Basketball program, one of the top AAU programs around the Midwest.
Killinger was on the school’s baseball team as a freshman, which is how he got involved with the Franklin chapter due to some teammates already being brothers of SAE.
“It’s interesting going through because I was one of those people who thought going to college I never thought I’d join a fraternity, that’s just not me,” Killinger said. “There’s a stereotype of fraternity guys and sorority girls, and I don’t really think that was the case at Franklin, and I’m glad I went into it with enough of an open mind to be a part of it because some of my favorite memories from college in those days, in that house, come from talking about a lot of different things with those guys.”
“The camaraderie that we had at our house at Franklin College was pretty incredible. As a college student, things aren’t always perfect for you, so having people to talk to that maybe have been through the same things, especially as a freshman, was big for me.”
He graduated in 1997. He went on to earn his Master of Sports Science in Sports Management from the United States Sports Academy in 2003.
Killinger is a former national coach of the year at the junior college level. He compiled a 147-71 record at No. 4 ranked Moberly Area Community College, including a 32-1 record in the 2017-2018 season. Killinger was named the U.S. Marine Corps/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Two-Year College National Coach of the Year, MCCAC Coach of the Year, NJCAA Region 16, and District K Coach of the Year.
He served as an assistant coach at Marshall University. He was the head women’s basketball coach at Lincoln Trail College located in Illinois, where he led the team to a 91-36 record over four years. He also was an assistant for the men’s program.
Before his time at Lincoln Trail, he served as an assistant men’s basketball coach and as the women’s head basketball coach for three years with Jacksonville College in Texas.
The New Guy On Campus
Killinger enters the program during a big transitional time.
Indiana State’s Women’s Basketball program has never earned an NCAA Tournament bid. The last time the program qualified for the Women’s NIT was in 2014. The program has won a total of 10 games in the last two seasons combined.
“Everywhere I’ve gone, we’ve had to build a program,” Killinger said. “I don’t know how long this will take, but I know every day we’re here, we’re going to be working towards getting this team to the NCAA Tournament for the first time, and that being something that’s expected.”
Being Greek While In College Athletics
Coaching at the JUCO level, his entire career means Killinger has never coached any athletes a part of Greek Life. Now that he’s at a four-year university, he understands it’s something he knows his players will approach him about.
“It’s one of those things I’ve never had to think about until I got to the four-year level,” Killinger said. “Other places I’ve been, the coaches really seemed to be against it.”
Trust is something Killinger will benefit from the doubt to players who show they can balance their schedule.
“If you have someone who can balance their time because both are a big commitment, but both are very beneficial to the development of a young person. When you look at it, yeah, you want to win games. That’s how coaches keep jobs or get jobs, but really the biggest aspect of our job is to help these young women develop into the best people they can be so when they’re done, they can move on and have a career. There are so many doors that can be opened through both avenues. I feel like people like to hire student-athletes because they’re getting a person who can balance their time and be committed to something bigger than themselves, but I also feel like there are many doors that can be opened through Greek Life. I don’t want to close doors on people. I want to help kids have an opportunity to benefit as much as they can from their experience with this.”