Kim Anderson had a whirlwind journey to Columbia

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 | 7:56 p.m. CDT; updated 5:13 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 30, 2014

COLUMBIA – The Saturday before last, Kim Anderson took his bike to the Katy Trail in Windsor. It was a nice day and he wanted to ride 10 miles toward Greenridge. 

After about four miles, Anderson's phone rang. The number was unfamiliar to him.

"It didn't say 'search firm,'" Anderson said with a laugh. "I said, 'well, I better check this out.'"

The cellphone service wasn't good, but Anderson was curious. So he turned around to bike back to his car and then drive to Windsor High School for better cell phone reception.

It was April 19 — one day after Tulsa announced former Missouri coach Frank Haith to its top basketball position. This was the first time Anderson was contacted for the Missouri men's basketball head coaching job. That phone call was from Collegiate Sports Associates, the search firm MU used to vet its candidates.

The following Thursday, Missouri Athletics Director Mike Alden met with Anderson at the coach's house in Warrensburg — a small town 95 miles southwest of Columbia. 

For the next few days, Anderson went into a bunker, he said, and didn't go out into town much.

On Monday morning, the day MU eventually hired him, the 58-year-old Anderson went into work at the University of Central Missouri. He was digging into recruiting for the Mules, according to UCM Athletics Director Jerry Hughes.

Around 2:20 p.m., shortly after the Missouri Board of Curators concluded its meeting, Alden called Anderson to tell him he officially got the job.

Anderson immediately called his wife, Melissa Anderson, before meeting with his UCM basketball team. The players knew it was coming, but that didn't make it any easier for Anderson. The coach teared up.

Following the meeting, just after 3 p.m., Anderson drove the 95 miles from Warrensburg to Columbia. His cell phone buzzed constantly. He said he received about 57 text messages in 10 minutes.

"You're not supposed to read them," Anderson said, referencing driver safety. "So I didn't read them."

The first call Anderson made when he got in the car was to Norm Stewart, the legendary coach who guided Anderson as a player at Missouri. Anderson said Stewart was emotional and extremely happy.

During the car ride, Anderson flipped on sports talk radio to hear the reaction.

"I flipped over to a station and I heard (former Missouri player) Jon Sundvold's voice," he said. "And I thought, 'Ah, I'm OK.'

"So when he got off I flipped over to some music for awhile."

When he arrived in Columbia, Anderson met with the current Missouri players and assistants at Mizzou Arena.

On Tuesday morning, a car picked up Anderson and transported him to Reynolds Alumni Center for his big moment. An overflowing crowd of media and fans were there to see Anderson announced as the 18th basketball coach in MU history.

The 6-foot-7 Anderson joked and said what the public wanted to hear. He earned three standing ovations.

Anderson choked up when talking about UCM and how much this job means to him.

When he addressed the crowd, his phone wouldn't stop buzzing — just like it did on his drive to Columbia.

Being from the area, that was to be expected. 

"I'm just a home-grown guy from Sedalia," Anderson said later. "I just like to coach basketball and be with my family, ride my bike a little bit, jog, be with my friends.

"This is where I want to be. I'm not goin' anywhere."

Supervising editor Mark Selig.

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