High School Coaching Career
With his playing career over, Keady returned to Kansas in 1959 where he accepted a teaching and coaching position at Beloit High School in Beloit. The only coaching position open at the school was for the basketball team. Keady coached in Beloit for six years from 1959 to 1965. Keady understood the value of education and never stopped learning, even while he was coaching. In 1964, he earned his master's degree in education from Kansas State. While coaching high school basketball, he compiled an impressive record of 142 wins to only 47 losses.
College Coaching Career
Hutchinson Junior College
Keady began his college coaching career with Hutchinson Junior College in Hutchinson, Kansas. He served as the assistant coach for the Blue Dragons starting in 1965. After only one year, Keady was promoted to take over the head coaching position. Under Keady's leadership the Blue Dragons won six league titles, and Keady earned the title of junior college coach of the year three times for his region. The highlight of his early coaching career came in 1973 when Hutchinson finished second in the junior college national tournament after completing the season with 29 wins and only 4 losses.
University of Arkansas
In 1975, Keady moved onto NCAA Division I college basketball. He had the unique opportunity to serve as an assistant coach under then head coach Eddie Sutton. Sutton and Keady made Arkansas a national contender. In 1977, Arkansas appeared in the NCAA tournament for the first time in nineteen years. Then only two years later, Arkansas was in the Final Four. Although they lost a close game to Kentucky, making it to the Final Four was a huge success for Keady and Sutton. While at Arkansas, Keady gained fame for his impressive recruiting skills. Notable players recruited by Keady include Ron Brewer, Marvin Delph and Sidney Moncrief. During his time at Arkansas, he accumulated 94 wins with only 24 losses.
Western Kentucky University
Following the third place finish in the 1978 NCAA tournament, Keady was ready to lead his own team to the tournament. In 1979, he accepted the position of head coach for Western Kentucky University. In his first year as a division one head coach, the team went 17-11, and finished tied for second in the conference. The team improved in his second year to go 21-8 and be named the regular season Ohio Valley Conference Co-Champions. The team won the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament and earned a berth in the NCAA tournament. In the first round the team played Virginia Tech, but lost in a competitive game that went into overtime. While at Western Kentucky, Keady compiled an overall record of 38-19.
Gene Keady became Purdue’s head basketball coach on April 11, 1980. His career at Purdue was a storied one. Keady became one of the winningest coaches in Big Ten Conference history, and was Big Ten Coach of the Year seven times. He was also National Coach of the Year six times: 1984 (United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), CBS Sports, Chevrolet Scholarship Program, Hoop Scoop, and Iowa Rebounders Club); 1988 (NBC Sports); 1994 (National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC)); 1995 (Chevrolet/CBS Sports); 1996 (Associated Press (AP), United Press International (UPI), Henry Iba Award (selected by the USBWA), Chevrolet/CBS Sports, College Sports Magazine, and Basketball Weekly); and 2000 (NABC). However, Keady was never able to win a NCAA championship in his career despite his success.
In December 2004, Keady was awarded the 36th Naismith Outstanding Contribution to Basketball Award by the Naismith International Basketball Foundation for his tremendous sportsmanship in basketball and a lifelong dedication to basketball. (Note: this award is distinct from the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Naismith College Coach of the Year award.)
Keady retired from coaching Purdue following the 2004-2005 season after leading Purdue to 18 NCAA Tournamnent appearances. He took the Boilermakers to two Elite Eight appearances and five total Sweet 16 appearances. Early in his career he led Western Kentucky to one NCAA tournament appearance. His total NCAA tournament postseason record is 20-19. He was succeeded by Matt Painter, who played under Keady as a guard at Purdue and served as Keady's associate during his final season as head coach.
In October of 2006 Keady was named the recipient of the 2007 John R. Wooden "Legends of Coaching" award. Keady is the ninth recipient of this award, as it was created in 1999.
While coaching at Purdue, Gene was quoted by saying, "Recruiting is a lot like shaving, if you miss a day, you look like a bum."
Professional Coaching Career
On December 6, 2005 he accepted a position of an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors offered to him by senior basketball adviser to the president Wayne Embry. The hiring was officially announced by the club on December 9 in a press release. Keady was snubbed by Darrick Martin as he attempted to high-five the Raptors player. A video of this incident has become an internet meme among Raptors fans. On May 18, 2006 it was announced that Keady will not be returning for the 2006-07 season because of his wife's illness.
International Coaching Career
In 2000, Keady won a Gold Medal in the Olympic Games in Sydney as an assistant coach for the Dream Team.