Matt Vines, Northwestern State Assistant Director of Communications
NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State athletics consistently emphasizes the academic component of its mission, and three current or former members of the department are being recognized for their roles as educators.
NSU men’s basketball coach Mike McConathy, do-it-all coach Johnnie Emmons and former men’s basketball assistant Dr. Derwood Duke are part of the six-member class of NSU’s Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development Hall of Distinguished Educators.
Inductees must have graduated from NSU at least 30 years ago and made significant contributions to the field of education.
“On behalf of the NSU Athletic Department, congratulations are in order to these three outstanding individuals,” said NSU Director of Athletics Greg Burke, who added that he was proud of NSU’s current group of coaches for having the same philosophy and approach. “The impact that Coaches Duke, Emmons and McConathy have had on the lives of countless NSU student-athletes through the years is a tribute to their commitment to the personal and educational success of the young people who were entrusted to them by families, friends and high school coaches.”
The induction ceremony will take place at 1:30 p.m. in the Teacher Education Center Commons preceded by a 1 p.m. reception.
McConathy, Louisiana’s winningest college coach with 647 career victories in 36 seasons, taught classes at NSU and his previous stops at Bossier Parish Community College, Airline and Bossier high schools.
He served as BPCC’s interim department head in the behavioral sciences department toward the end of his 16-year stay before assuming NSU head coaching duties in 1999, beginning his 21st season this year.
His class load included personal health, team sports, individual sports and driver’s education.
Perhaps McConathy’s biggest education contribution has come from his many basketball camps, where he and his staff teach life lessons along with basketball fundamentals.
He’s been part of the National Association of Basketball Coaches Stay to Win program, which encourages local elementary students to graduate high school.
McConathy was awarded the prestigious NABC Guardians of the Game Pillar of Education Award in 2012. His student-athletes have graduated at 90 percent in his tenure, and his teams have ranked in the top 10 percent of Division I programs in the Academic Progress Rate five times since 2004.
The Bossier City native graduated from NSU with a master’s degree in health and physical education at NSU in 1983 and completed Plus 30 in 1989 at Northwestern State, Centenary College and Louisiana Tech.
Emmons coached football, baseball and men’s track as well as starting the women’s tennis program at NSU.
After graduating from NSU in 1951 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education with a minor in mathematics, Emmons earned a master’s in P.E. at Louisiana Tech and completed plus 30 at NSU.
He taught and coached in Spearsville, Bernice, Ferriday, Homer and Lake Charles before joining the NSU faculty and coaching staffs.
One of the first N-Club Hall of Fame inductees in 1973, Emmons excelled on the field in football and baseball, still holding the program’s batting average record at .458.
The athletics academic support center bears his name.
Duke was an NSU assistant basketball coach, golf coach and assistant professor from 1974-81 and returned from 1997-2009 as an assistant professor of education leadership.
Duke made his mark in administration, serving as superintendent of schools in Winn Parish (1988-1996) and Natchitoches Parish (2009-14).
He graduated an Ed.D. in physical education from NSU in 1974.
Duke began his teaching and coaching career on the high school circuit with service to Mansfield High and Natchitoches High/Natchitoches Central.
— Featured photo courtesy of Northwestern State