Ole Miss

Ole Miss basketball coach resigns, saying he wants to end the ‘ominous cloud’ over the program

Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy leaves a press conference at the Pavilion at Ole Miss in Oxford on Monday, February 12, 2018. Kennedy, in his 12th season as Ole Miss’ head coach, announced he would not return as coach following this season.
Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy leaves a press conference at the Pavilion at Ole Miss in Oxford on Monday, February 12, 2018. Kennedy, in his 12th season as Ole Miss’ head coach, announced he would not return as coach following this season. AP

The winningest coach in the history of Ole Miss’ men’s basketball program is stepping down.

Longtime Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy officially announced his resignation during a press conference Monday afternoon. He will finish out the 2018 season.

The news comes one day ahead of Kennedy’s 400th career game at Ole Miss.

“I’ve always prided myself in being direct and being accountable. With that, I’d like to address this ominous cloud that seems to be hovering over our program,” Kennedy said. “I woke up Sunday morning with a true conviction that there needed to be some clarity as it relates to the future of Ole Miss basketball moving forward.”

The Louisville native called his 12 years in Oxford — and in his home state — a blessing, however, “It’s time for a new voice and a new vision for this program moving forward.”

Kennedy is 245-154 all-time at Ole Miss and is the SEC’s longest-tenured coach among his current counterparts. Kennedy’s teams have compiled nine 20-win seasons, six NIT berths, two NCAA Tournament berths, two NIT Final Four appearances, two SEC West titles and an SEC Tournament championship. He was also the SEC’s Coach of the Year twice.

This season has been a step back for Kennedy’s team as they’re currently struggling through a 1-7 skid and are just 11-14 overall and 4-8 against SEC foes.

“I have too much respect for this university. I have too much respect for the position of being a head coach in the SEC to allow any speculation about my job status to create a divisive distraction for this program and the people who support it,” Kennedy said. “I’m at complete peace with this decision. I truly am.”

Ole Miss Athletics Director Ross Bjork sat beside Kennedy during the press conference.

“When Ole Miss needed him, Coach Kennedy answered the call and came home and built this program into one of the most respected programs in the country and the SEC,” he said.

Kennedy oversaw a massive facilities upgrade at Ole Miss as the school built the Tuohy Basketball Center basketball practice facility in 2010 and then moved from the ancient C.M. “Tad” Smith Coliseum to The Pavilion at Ole Miss in 2016.

Prior to arriving in Oxford, the 1986 Mississippi Player of the Year played at N.C. State for Jim Valvano and later transferred to Gene Bartow’s UAB team. After playing professionally, Kennedy was an assistant at South Alabama, UAB and Cincinnati. He served as the Bearcats’ interim head coach in 2005-06 before making his Ole Miss debut in 2006-07.

There’s no definite timetable to find Kennedy’s replacement, Bjork said, but the Rebels will move quickly on building a game plan.

“This gives us some clarity and allows us to start a process. We know the landscape is always going to be changing,” Bjork said. “It’s different this year with all the things happening in college basketball so I think you have to be very, very careful in your search process. Whatever the timeline is to hire the best coach, that’s what we’ll stick to.”

The Rebels host Arkansas at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

Andy Kennedy over the years

Season

Record

Postseason

2006-07

21-13

NIT; second round

2007-08

24-11

NIT; semifinals

2008-09

16-15

N/A

2009-10

24-11

NIT; semifinals

2010-11

20-14

NIT; first round

2011-12

20-14

NIT; first round

2012-13

27-9

NCAA Tournament; third round

2013-14

19-14

N/A

2014-15

21-13

NCAA Tournament; third round

2015-16

20-12

N/A

2016-17

22-14

NIT; quarterfinals

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