Head Men's Basketball Coach
McKendree University director of athletics Chuck Brueggemann announced on Friday that Chris Foster has accepted an offer to become the new men’s basketball coach for the Bearcats. Foster replaces Harry Statham, the all-time wins leader in college basketball history with 1,122 victories. He becomes the 25th head coach in McKendree men’s basketball history.
“Chris is a dynamic coach and motivator who has quickly made his mark as a collegiate head coach,” said Brueggemann. “He is a player’s coach who gets the most out of his student-athletes both on the court and in the classroom. Chris is a man of high character and it reflects in the type of student-athletes who have played in his program. He was a successful student-athlete at the (NCAA) Division I level, which has enabled Chris to develop a coaching style that falls back on that experience. He knows the GLVC well and is a proven winner in our league. We look forward to Chris leading our McKendree men’s basketball program to new heights in the GLVC and beyond.”
Foster is familiar with McKendree after spending the last four years as the head coach of Great Lakes Valley Conference foe Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo. In those four seasons, Foster guided the Bulldogs to a 20-win season each time, earning 83 victories during that span. Of those 83 wins, 48 came against GLVC opponents.
In each of his four seasons in Kirksville, Foster led Truman State to the GLVC Tournament. His 2017-18 squad earned a share of the GLVC West Division title with a 13-5 mark. The Bulldogs grabbed the No. 2 seed at the 2018 GLVC Tournament held in Edwardsville, Ill., and reached the championship contest for the first time since becoming league members in 2013. Foster also coached three first-team All-GLVC players in 2017-18, marking just the second time in conference history that one institution had three first-team All-Conference honorees in men’s basketball.
All four of Foster’s teams at Truman State featured a high-octane offensive style that averaged 82 points per game or higher each time. The 2017-18 Bulldogs’ squad was second in the GLVC in scoring offense at 83.8 points per game, a year removed from a team that set a program record by averaging nearly 87 points per contest. The 2016-17 squad also finished first among all NCAA Division II programs in three-point field goal percentage, knocking down 42.9 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc.
Foster also led Truman State to NCAA Tournament appearances in each of the last two years. It was the first time in 60 years of NCAA membership that the Bulldogs made consecutive trips to the national tournament.
“I’m honored and excited to be the new men’s basketball coach, and I thank Chuck Brueggemann (McKendree President) Dr. James Dennis for this opportunity,” said Foster. “McKendree has a great basketball tradition and I look forward to coming in and adding to that tradition. I cannot wait to get to know our team members, work with them and build on all the great things that McKendree basketball has to offer.”
Before being named the head coach at Truman State, Foster spent one season as the Bulldogs’ associate head coach and recruiting coordinator. In that role he also served as academic coordinator as well as planned and implemented pre- and post-season workouts.
A 2005 graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Foster gained valuable coaching experience at his alma mater. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant basketball coach at UNI for one season before transitioning into the role of director of basketball operations in 2006-07. In October 2007, Foster was named as an assistant basketball coach for the Panthers. After spending one year as an assistant at UNI, Foster moved into the high school coaching ranks before returning as video coordinator for the Panthers in December 2011. He remained in that role until moving to Truman State.
In taking the reins of the McKendree men’s basketball program, Foster shared his vision for the Bearcats’ future. “I think the sky’s the limit. For me, it’s about taking that next step. We will work hard with our players to get better each and every day, to improve next year and build on that foundation. We also want to bring in student-athletes who share that work ethic and want to get to that next level. There are a lot of great things about this basketball program (at McKendree). Our expectation is to compete among the top tier of the GLVC every year.”
Foster was a four-year member of the Northern Iowa men’s basketball team, where he is a member of the Panthers’ 1,000-point club. He was named to the All-Freshman Team in the Missouri Valley Conference in 2001-02, and also played for the UNI teams that made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and 2005. Foster ranks seventh on the Panthers’ career list for assists with 370.
Foster and his wife Kylie have three children, a son, Jase and two daughters, Avery and Riley.