Earlier this week, Ole Miss announced that it would be parting ways with longtime coach Andy Kennedy at the end of the season. But now, Kennedy has coached his last game.
Following the Rebels’ loss to Mississippi State on Saturday, a loss that moved them to last place in the SEC, the school announced that Kennedy would not finish out the season. Tony Madlock will serve as the interim coach for the remainder of the season. Prior to stepping down, Kennedy was the longest tenured coach in the SEC. This was Kennedy’s 12th season at the school.
Kennedy announced the news in a statement put out by a the school.
“It has become readily apparent to me that my continued presence as the head coach is proving detrimental to these players finishing the season in a fashion that is representative of The Standard for this program that has been clearly established and maintained for over a decade; therefore, I believe that it is in everyone’s best interest that I exit my role as head coach effective immediately. We all know that ‘clean breaks’ are always best, and I should have realized this last Monday. My apologies,” Kennedy said in the statement.
“As I’ve stated before, I am Very Thankful to have had the opportunity to serve as the Head Coach for Men’s Basketball at The University of Mississippi for 12 years! This Community, this University, the SEC, have all overwhelmed me and my family with incredible grace and support. We will forever be woven into the fabric of this Very Special place – “Hell Yeah, Damn Right!!”
On the season, Ole Miss is 11-16 and 4-10 in conference. Ole Miss has lost seven games in a row. The Rebels lost 79-62 on Saturday to Mississippi State and during the Rebels seven-game losing streak, the last five have all come by at least double digits.
Athletic director Ross Bjork also issued a statement about Kennedy stepping down.
“Andy and I spoke this morning, and I fully support his decision to step away [Sunday],” Bjork said. “While we had hoped to relieve some pressure with last week’s announcement, it simply did not work out that way. Our student-athletes are the most important aspect of our athletics program, and we must always put them in the best position for success, no matter what. Coach Kennedy will always be remembered as an Ole Miss Rebel, and we wish him the best.”
Kennedy was the winningest basketball coach in school history and racked up a 245-156 record in his time in Oxford, Miss. Kennedy had nine 20-win seasons in his time at Ole Miss, but only two NCAA Tournament appearances. And given that the SEC as a conference seems to have improved, Ole Miss’ struggles just proved to be too great to keep Kennedy for the remainder of the season.
Ole Miss has four games left in the regular season and then the SEC Tournament.
Madlock and the Rebels return to the court on Tuesday night when they visit Missouri (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2).