EAST LANSING, Michigan- The Michigan State men’s soccer program mourns the passing of former head coach Gene Kenney, who died June 8 at the age of 94.
Kenney, who coached the Spartans from 1956 to 1969, was the founding coach of men’s soccer at Michigan State. In his 14 seasons at the helm of the program, Kenney posted a record of 120-13-13, good for an .866 winning percentage. He also coached the Spartans to back-to-back Co-NCAA championships in the 1967 and 1968 seasons.
“As the first coach in program history, Gene Kenney set the gold standard for Michigan State football, guiding the Spartans to two NCAA championships,” said the head coach. MSU men’s football club. Damon Rensing said. “It’s a standard we still strive to achieve today. He’s an all-time great Spartan who has continued to have a positive impact on our program and MSU athletics as an administrator for more than two decades after retiring from coaching. The thoughts of the entire Michigan State football community are with his family and loved ones.”
Kenney, who was born and raised in Urbana, Illinois, attended the University of Illinois, where he was a member of the football and wrestling teams. After graduating in 1950, Kenney went to North Carolina as an assistant wrestling coach. It was in North Carolina that Kenney got his first experience coaching college football.
During his tenure, Kenney coached 13 first-team All-Americans and six second-team All-Americans. Two of his former players also served as head coach of the Spartans football team – former All-American Payton Fuller from 1970 to 1973 and Joe Baum, who coached the Spartans for 32 seasons.
Under Kenney’s leadership, the team competed in eight consecutive NCAA championships, from 1962 to 1969. His 1964 and 1965 teams took second place, and Kenney’s 1966 team took third place. The 1967 and 1968 teams both finished the tournament tied, making them co-champions.
Kenney was appointed assistant athletic director for facilities in 1970 and held the position under five athletic directors. During his tenure, he oversaw the construction and renovation of numerous sports buildings, including the Munn Ice Arena and the Breslin Student Events Center.