Photo courtesy of the office of Lt. Governor Dan McKee.
Throughout the course of the memorable 2017-18 season for the University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team, URI had some support coming from the State House in Providence. Rhode Island’s Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee was cheering on his home state’s university throughout the course of the season.
“I’ve been to a number of the games,” McKee said. “I love basketball. It is a very positive, uplifting thing for the state.”
The roots of his love and support for the Rhody Rams comes from his desire to fulfill his role as a state officer and his love for the game of basketball.
McKee’s pride for the program was on full display last year season, too. During the 2016-17 season, while embarking on their first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 18 years, McKee was at a national lieutenant governors meeting. He said he really enjoyed being able to see the words “Rhode Island” striped across the chests of the men’s basketball student athletes. “It was really good for Rhode Island to have that real, strong showing for the team last year, and this year they got the same thing,” McKee said.
McKee, the former mayor of Cumberland, Rhode Island for 12 years, said that during his time in Cumberland he mostly had stayed within that community. However, since becoming the lieutenant governor he enjoys venturing out into the other 39 communities across the state.
“It [Rhode Island basketball games] is a nice excuse to get down to South Kingstown and the southern part of the state as part of my duties of being apart of all the communities,” McKee said. “I get to do it at a basketball game and see a lot of people and enjoy the game. I made a New Year’s resolution to get to more games.”
For McKee, it goes deeper than basketball at URI. As a state officer he is proud of anything that the University does well. He said that he’s made trips to Kingston for an array of different reasons including research work and the University’s business school.
“I really have taken an interest in Rhode Island in general,” McKee said. “If URI does well in anything it’s good. As URI does well, whether in basketball or academics or wherever else it might be, it really does position Rhode Island in a very positive light and we need to really appreciate that more.”
With college basketball as a whole at an all-time high in the state, McKee said that he does support Providence College basketball as well. But, when the teams meet on the court he is pulling for the Rams.
He was in attendance at this year’s annual Providence-Rhode Island game and he was impressed by the product. “I think the Ryan Center is one of the best, if not the best, venues in the country,” McKee said. “Especially the way the students get involved in the game.”
McKee has spent a better part of his life coaching and playing basketball. He has played the sport at the collegiate level as a freshman at then Division II powerhouse Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, as well as coaching a well-known Rhode Island AAU basketball program, the Rhode Island Shooting Stars.
The most rewarding part of the game of basketball, he said, is the diverse interactions with many people along the way. “I’ve enjoyed the game of basketball, but have also learned an awful lot from interacting with all different people from all different walks of life,” McKee said.