Mississippi State director of athletics Scott Stricklin fired men’s basketball coach Rick Ray after three seasons on a Saturday.
Ray went 37-60 during his stint in Starkville including a 13-41 mark in league play over that span after taking over for Rick Stansbury. Ray never had a winning season with the Bulldogs.
Stricklin met with Ray on Saturday morning and released a statement shortly thereafter.
“After much thought and deliberation, I have made the decision to replace Rick Ray as Mississippi State’s men’s basketball coach. This has been a difficult decision, as I have the utmost respect for Rick, and am highly appreciative of the effort he put forth in leading our basketball program. To Rick’s credit, we have seen great strides from our student-athletes in several areas, including academics. However, the on-court results have not been satisfactory. In order for MSU to achieve success at the levels to which we aspire, I believe that a change is necessary at this time.
“Men’s basketball is important to Mississippi State University, and history illustrates that we can compete for championships on a consistent basis. MSU has won six SEC championships, in four different decades, under three different coaches. We have seen the Bulldogs play in the sport’s final weekend, and I firmly believe there are more achievements like those in our future.
“The search for a new head coach begins immediately, and I’m confident we will identify someone who wants to be a part of the winning culture that is occurring at Mississippi State University.”
Ray also issued a statement on Saturday.
“I am saddened by the events today. Not for myself but for the players who have sacrificed their bodies and mind for me and the program; for the signed and committed recruits who have to go through a coaching change after taking SO much time and effort to make an educated decision about what is best for them and their future and choosing me as their next coach, mentor, and role model but now have to go through the gut wrenching process again; for my staff who worked tirelessly to hold our players accountable, to develop our players on and off the court, to recruit true student-athletes who hold up to my high standards as human beings and citizens, and for their undying loyalty to me and Mississippi State.
“But a decision has been made and I want to thank Dr. (Mark) Keenum and Scott Stricklin for giving me the opportunity to lead their program. I want to thank the athletic administration and coaches, especially John Cohen, Dan Mullen, and Vic Schaefer for all of their help and support. The high school and AAU coaches in this area have welcomed me and my staff with open arms and have been a complete pleasure to deal with and I am thankful for that. And most importantly the Mississippi State community, alums, fans, and former players for being SO kind to me and my family and making us feel at home and at peace. You truly showed us the definition of family and southern hospitality.”