Mr. Gary McKnight » Biography


Gary McKnight took over as Mater Dei Head Basketball Coach prior to the 1982-83 season. During his tenure, Coach McKnight has won 1 National Championship, 11 California State titles, 16 Southern California Regional titles and 23 CIF Southern Section titles including a National Championship in 2014. The Monarchs have won 38 league titles in his 39, including 33 consecutive.

Coach McKnight has guided the Monarchs to an overall record of 1,188 – 122 since becoming Mater Dei’s head coach, His win total ranks first as the most in California state history. He is also 4th nationally among all-time coaching leaders in total career wins.

Coach McKnight has been nominated for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2016, 2017 and 2018 as well as receiving received many prestigious awards, including: Recipient of the 2018 and 2014 CIF-Southern Section Open Division Coach of the Year Award, the 2017 NABC Guardians of the Game Leadership Award, the 2014 Morgan Wooten Award for Lifetime Achievement in Coaching High School Basketball by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., the 2014 Naismith Boy’s High School Coach of the Year Award, the Max Prep’s 2014 National Coach of the Year Award for All Sports, the Max Prep’s Boys’ Basketball National Coach of the Year Award, the National High School Coaches Association High School Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year Award and the 2014 CIF California State Coach of the Year Award, Section 7 Coach of the Year in 1996 and 1997, National Coach of the Year in 1996, and ESPN National Coach of the Year in 1987.

Under Coach McKnight’s tenure, the Monarchs have had 9 players compete in the NBA, 24 Monarchs have been named CIF Player of the Year, with 2 Monarchs being named Gatorade State Players of the Year. Many more have had successful college careers, including more than 100 Monarchs that have go on to play college basketball, including more than 80 at the NCAA Division 1 level.

Coach McKnight and his wife Judy of 46 years are the proud parents of 5 boys (Clay, Bryan, Geoff, Matt and Taylor) and 7 grandkids (Makenzie, Jaden, Lexie, Jocelyn, Brooklyn, Evelyn and Morgan). 

What I Love About MD
The People – Whether it’s the students, faculty, administration or alumni, they are all what make Mater Dei such a great place. I am one of the lucky few who get up each morning looking forward to coming to work.

Other experience
Mater Dei Boy’s Athletic Director – 18 years (1988-2005)

Bachelor of Science in P.E. - Biological Science and Health for Chapman College
7-12 Lifetime Teaching Credential from Chapman College

At MD since: 1982