By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Monday wasn’t too bad for Andy Kennedy. The Ole Miss basketball coach received a two-year extension and joined a new tax bracket.
After Kennedy guided the Rebels to a 24-11 mark, a share of the SEC Western Division title and a berth in the NIT semifinals in New York, a restructured deal was announced that has him under contract through 2014.
The deal includes a pay raise believed to make Kennedy’s annual salary $1.3 million, a figure that would rank near the middle of SEC coaches. Ole Miss assistant coaches received pay increases also.
While successful on many levels, the season fell short of the program’s ultimate goal of an NCAA tournament berth, something it’s not achieved since 2002.
“We realize there is much work left to do,” Kennedy said.
Athletics director Pete Boone agrees but says much has been accomplished already, citing “considerable progress” since Kennedy was hired in April of 2006. Kennedy’s previous contract paid him $900,000. He did not receive a raise following the 2008-2009 season which included a 16-15 overall record, 7-9 SEC mark, a rash of season-ending injuries to key players and his own arrest after an off-court incident with a cab driver in Cincinnati.
“He runs an excellent program, has recruited more talent than has been here before, and our academic standing is better than ever before,” Boone said.
Kennedy is 85-50 at Ole Miss, 31-33 in SEC regular-season games, and also shared the West title in 2007, his first season.
Ole Miss players Chris Warren and Terrico White, examples of the talent he’s attracted to Ole Miss, are both currently pondering jumps to the NBA. Warren is expected to meet with an NBA advisory group, while White will take things a step further. He has declared for the draft but will not hire an agent and has a May 8 deadline to remove his name for the draft or remain available.
Kennedy has also made in-roads in signing Mississippi players, something the program had not done consistently since early in the early 2000s.
“I have never been more excited about the future of our program, and I’m thrilled that Chancellor (Dan) Jones and Pete share that excitement,” Kennedy said. “We are proud of what’s been accomplished and feel very good about the direction we are moving.”
In the four seasons prior to Kennedy’s arrival, Ole Miss was 55-63 overall with a 17-47 mark in SEC play with no postseason appearances. The Louisville native has reached the NIT four times, three at Ole Miss and once at Cincinnati as interim coach the season before his arrival.
“As a native Mississippian, it is an honor to be the head basketball coach at Ole Miss,” Kennedy said, “and I look forward to the ongoing challenge of bringing our program up to the standard of this great American public university.”
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600 or email@example.com