By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – Ole Miss basketball coach Andy Kennedy will have his contract extended to a fourth year, the maximum allowed under state law, Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork said Wednesday.
Bjork offered no other specifics.
Earlier this week, Kennedy’s name was mentioned in a Tampa Tribune story in connection with the coaching vacancy at the University of South Florida, which fired coach Stan Heath last week.
Kennedy dismissed the link between himself and USF as “speculation” and declined further comment.
“I’ve talked to Andy and his representative, and there’s nothing to that story, that connection. We met this morning and talked about how we get basketball better, how we become more consistent, what the future holds. Andy’s our coach, he’s our guy,” Bjork said.
Kennedy’s contract was extended to four years last April, and his salary increased to $1.8 million a year after he led the Rebels to a 27-9 record, the SEC tournament championship and an NCAA tournament win over Wisconsin.
The latest edition of the Rebels finished 19-14, 9-9 in SEC regular-season play, and did not play in the postseason for the second time under Kennedy.
The school has begun site work on its long-awaited new basketball arena with a ceremonial ground-breaking set for some time in April.
“The South Florida stuff … things get thrown out there in our business. It’s hard to say where it came from. It doesn’t really matter. We know we’re moving ahead with Andy as our coach. We’re excited about the future and what we can do in basketball,” Bjork said.
Kennedy is 171-101 after eight seasons at Ole Miss.
Bjork said Kennedy’s consistent record, facilities in place and on the way and an increased budget for basketball are reasons Ole Miss fans should get behind Kennedy as their coach.
“Andy has earned that right to say this is his program, our program, ‘Let’s go, let’s everybody lock arms and move ahead,’” Bjork said.