What Are the Virginia Military Institute Keydets?

Virginia Military v George Washington - Keydets
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There may be many reasons for why or how you stumbled across this page. Chances are you are wondering what a Keydet is, or you are looking for more information on Keydets. Whatever the reason, you have come to the right place. Keep reading for all the information you will ever need on Ketdets.


Army has the Cadets. The Virginia Military Institute has the "Keydets." What's the difference you ask?

A few hundred miles of I-95.

"Keydets" and Cadets are the same thing. The VMI version pays homage to the school's southern heritage by spelling the word the way it is pronounced by a person with a thick southern drawl.

With a name like the Keydets, one might expect VMI's mascot to have a similarly southern flavor.

Depends on what you mean by "southern."

The VMI mascot is a kangaroo, an animal which originates in a land MUCH farther south than the Mason-Dixon line.

History of the Keydets

Although you may not know it, the Virginia Military Institute's Keydets have a long and storied history. We'll focus solely on the history of the basketball team.

The Keydets have played basketball every season since 1908. The team competed in the Southern Conference up until 2003 when it joined the Big South. However, the team rejoined the Southern Conference in in 2014.

Although not known as a powerhouse team, the Keydets had two very successful seasons in the 1970s.

In 1976 the team made it all the way to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, and in 1977 the team made it to the Sweet Sixteen. The only other year that the team made the NCAA Tournament was in 1964. However, the Keydets were quickly eliminated from tournament play.

Best Keydets of All Time

You may not think the Keydets have had a lot of superstars suit up for them and you would be right.

However, the team has retired three jerseys in its history of playing basketball. Those jerseys were worn by Ron Carter, Gay Elmore, and Reggie Williams.

Williams currently has the most points in team history with 2,556. Elmore comes in second with 2,422 and Carter is in third with 2,228.

Other notable players in team history include Lewis Preston who is second all-time in shot blocks and Jason Conley who is the only freshman to ever lead the NCAA in scoring.

Hoping for a Better Future

The Keydets have not had a lot of success on the basketball court since the 1970s. However, the team hired coach Dan Earl in 2015 with the hopes of turning things around. For a team that has as much history as the Keydets, it's safe to assume that the college basketball landscape would be much better off if Earl were able to turn this team back into a national competitor.

However, Earl certainly doesn't have an easy task. VMI is not an easy place to recruit big-named talent too. He will have to rely on his system and his coaching staff to win games with the Keydets. It won't be easy, but it's certainly possible.

This article was updated by Brian Ethridge on 9/7/15.