Courtesy: Ole Miss Athletics - OXFORD, Miss. - After 12 years of leading the Ole Miss basketball program, Andy Kennedy will step down as head coach at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season, it was announced Monday.
"I have been truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to be a head coach in the Southeastern Conference in my home state for 12 years," said Kennedy. "I also know that it is time for a new voice and a new vision for this program moving forward. With that said, at the end of this season I will be stepping down in my role as the head coach of Ole Miss. I appreciate Ross (Bjork) and the working relationship that we have, which allows us to talk candidly and frankly that now is the time to move the program forward."
"As a Mississippian, when Ole Miss needed him, Coach Kennedy answered the call and came home and built this program into one of the most respected basketball programs in the country and the SEC," said Ole Miss Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Ross Bjork. "He changed the mindset and the culture of Ole Miss Basketball. This foundation will live on for a long time. We appreciate the hard work and dedication that he has given. We want to thank his family and want to wish them well in their future. They will always be a part of our program."
"We are grateful to Andy for all that he has done for Ole Miss Basketball and wish him the best," said Ole Miss Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter. "He has certainly left the program miles ahead of where he found it, and we look forward to building upon the consistent foundation of success that he has established."
In his 12th season in Oxford, Kennedy holds a 245-154 record as coach of the Rebels. With 11 postseason wins, eight postseason berths, nine 20-win seasons, two NCAA Tournament appearances, two NIT Final Fours, two SEC West titles and an SEC Tournament Championship, the two-time SEC Coach of the Year will leave Ole Miss as the winningest coach in program history. Averaging more than 21 wins per season, Kennedy ranks 18th in SEC history with 245 victories.
The Louisville, Mississippi, native has the fifth-most wins in 12 years at one school in the conference. Kennedy is one of five SEC coaches to post at least nine 20-win seasons in his first 11 years in the league, joining the likes of Billy Donovan (Florida), Joe B. Hall (Kentucky), Nolan Richardson (Arkansas) and Tubby Smith (Kentucky). In a win over Mississippi State earlier this season (Jan. 6), he became the 23rd SEC coach to earn 100 victories in conference play.
Kennedy turned around the Ole Miss basketball program. He is the only coach in SEC history to post 11 consecutive seasons after taking over a program coming off four straight losing seasons. In his first season, he guided the Rebels to 21 wins and an SEC West Division title on his way to becoming SEC Coach of the Year. Since then, the Rebels are one of only 14 teams nationwide to have 11 straight winning seasons. Ole Miss ranks third in the conference with nine 20-win seasons during those 11 years.
Under Kennedy, the Rebels finished .500-or-better eight times in conference play (fourth in the SEC). Ole Miss and Kentucky are the only two SEC schools to finish .500-or-better in league play in each of the last six seasons. Kennedy has a .500-or-better record against 10 of the 13 SEC teams, including a 13-11 mark versus rival Mississippi State. The Rebels have won eight of the past nine meetings in that rivalry.
Ole Miss made eight trips to the postseason under Kennedy, earning 11 of the team's 20 postseason wins throughout history. Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee are the only other SEC schools with at least 11 postseason wins over the past 11 seasons. The Rebels' memorable run as the 2013 SEC Tournament champions resulted in a trip to the NCAA Tournament, where the Rebels upset No. 18 Wisconsin in the opening round. Two seasons later, Ole Miss provided a huge second-half comeback to knock off BYU in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Kennedy also led the Rebels to a pair of NIT Final Four appearances in 2008 and 2010.
Throughout his tenure, Kennedy has developed talent and brought out the best in the basketball players that decide to continue their careers at Ole Miss. He has coached the Rebels' all-time leader in rebounding (Murphy Holloway), 3-pointers (Chris Warren) and blocked shots (Reginald Buckner). Kennedy has guided 16 All-SEC selections, including the likes of Marshall Henderson, Stefan Moody and Sebastian Saiz. Over the last 11 seasons, 12 Ole Miss guards have earned All-SEC honors; only two other schools have accomplished that feat.
Kennedy will remain on the sidelines through the remainder of the season. The Rebels will return to the hardwood Tuesday night, facing Arkansas at The Pavilion. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. CT on SEC Network.