Alphonza Kee has to cut an interview in his office short on a recent morning.
“It’s almost 9:30. They’ll be waiting for me,’’ Kee said as he hustled out the door.
But Kee wasn’t headed to the job for which he’s most known, that being men’s basketball coach at Fayetteville State University.
Instead, Kee walks just a few steps down the hall from his office in Capel Arena to a classroom where about 25 students await his arrival.
Kee takes his place behind a podium at the front of the room, where for the next 75 minutes he’ll conduct a course in FSU’s School of Education on “Basketball Theory.’’
It’s the first of five classes that Kee teaches each week in addition to his year-round job coaching and recruiting players for the school’s basketball program.
All of the full-time employed head coaches for Fayetteville State’s 10 intercollegiate sports teams have classroom duties, except for the football coach. That does not include the part-time employees who coach cross country, golf and tennis.
The practice of having head coaches also teach isn’t uncommon at the small-college level. But most of the schools from the NCAA Division II Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association in which FSU competes don’t require it. Only Elizabeth City State confirmed its head basketball coaches teach classes. Some of the league’s private schools, like Chowan, would not disclose information on its coaches.
“I think most have gotten away from that a bit,’’ Kee said. “Times have changed and basketball has become a one-job shop focused on winning games.
“But here, we have pride in our academic reputation. We don’t want to fall into one category.’’
Kee, a New Bern native, was first exposed to the dual role of college coach and teacher while playing basketball at Fayetteville State from 1995-97. A starting guard who scored the first basket in the history of Capel Arena, Kee witnessed the dedication to both jobs displayed by then-FSU coach Rick Duckett. Duckett is currently the associate head coach at Miami University in Ohio.
“My senior year here I’m wondering, ‘What am I going to do with the rest of my life? What are my skills and what is my passion?’’’ Kee said. “My answer was basketball, and leading and changing lives. As I was growing and finding myself, I said, ‘Coach Duckett does all of that.’ He competes on a high stage, he impacts young men, and he educates and mentors.
“To me, that’s the whole job. Coach Duckett coached, taught basketball and did all those things. I guess I’ve never looked at the jobs being separate.’’
Kee’s weekly class schedule includes the Basketball Theory class Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 until 10:45 a.m. He also conducts three one-hour courses in “Basketball,’’ an on-the-court instructional class that meets at 11 a.m. Tuesday and Thursdays and from 10 a.m. and noon Mondays and Wednesdays.
Students in Kee’s classes range from those hoping to enter the coaching profession to single parents just hoping to learn more about basketball. Kee, who just finished his seventh season as FSU’s basketball coach, counts Dennis Smith Sr. among his former students. Smith is the father of highly touted N.C. State freshman guard Dennis Jr.