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Ole Miss' Kennedy Steps Down Effective Immediately

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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)

 

OXFORD — Saturday night figured to be just Andy Kennedy's final game against Mississippi State.

It turns out it was Kennedy's final game at Ole Miss period. Kennedy announced he would step down at the end of the season on Monday. A day after the Rebels lost 79-62 to in-state rival Mississippi State, Kennedy decided to step down immediately.

"It has become readily apparent to me that my continued presence as the head coach is proving detrimental to these players finishing this season in a fashion that is representative of the standard for this program that has been clearly established and maintained for over a decade," Kennedy wrote in a statement. "Therefore, I believe that it is in everyone's best interest that I exit in 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."

The Rebels (11-16, 4-10 SEC) has lost seven consecutive games and nine of their past 10. The defeats have become worse with each passing game, as the team gets further and further away from competitiveness with no signs of improving.

It will be Kennedy's first losing campaign in his 12-season tenure at Ole Miss. He finishes his career with 245 victories, the most in program history, 156 losses, a 2013 SEC Tournament title, 11 postseason wins and two NCAA Tournament appearances.

"Andy and I spoke this morning, and I fully support his decision to step away today. While we had hoped to relieve some pressure with last week's announcement, it simply did not work out that way," Ross Bjork said in a statement. "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."

Assistant Tony Madlock will serve as the acting head coach for the remainder of the 2017-18 season. Madlock, a Memphis native, has been Kennedy's assistant the past four seasons. He's also coached at Auburn, UTEP and Arkansas State.

Kennedy thought by announcing his decision to step down, it would liberate his team. Instead, there was a lack of energy in Tuesday night's home loss to Arkansas, which Kennedy said was the most disappointed he's been in his professional career.

He even hinted at this scenario.

"I told Ross if we felt like the product that is Ole Miss would get better, I would walk away right now and never to be heard from again on this campus," Kennedy said. "If that's what this team needs and maybe that's what it needs."

Then Ole Miss didn't put up much of a fight and fell behind by 21 points in the first half against Mississippi State Saturday night.

Afterward, Kennedy was asked how he's trying to stay sane while the frustration mounts.

"Who's saying I am sane? It's difficult to watch, man," Kennedy said, "when you know how hard it's been to build it."

So now an era, which spanned 12 seasons and 401 games, has officially come to an end.

"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," Kennedy wrote in his statement. "We will forever be woven into the fabric of this very special place — 'Hell Yeah, Damn Right!!'"

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February 19, 2018
 
 
 

 

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