Murray’s Kennedy is Aggies’ perfect fit
Posted: Monday, May 16, 2011 3:48 pm
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Billy Kennedy returned to Texas A&M on Sunday, leaving Murray State to replace Mark Turgeon as the Aggies’ basketball coach.
“I think he is the perfect fit for Texas A&M,” athletic director Bill Byrne said in a statement. “In talking to several people who I respect in college basketball, they mentioned Billy as an outstanding basketball coach, but an even better person.”
Turgeon left last week to coach Maryland.
The 47-year-old Kennedy, a former assistant at A&M, will be introduced on the campus today.
Kennedy was the Ohio Valley Conference coach of the year twice in his five seasons with the Racers.
His best season at Murray State came in 2009-10 when the team went a school-record 31-5, won the Ohio Valley regular-season and tournament titles and beat Vanderbilt in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The Racers also won the regular-season championship last season.
He takes over a Texas A&M team that has made an impressive turnaround in the last few years, making six straight NCAA tournament appearances after reaching the event just six times in history before the current run. The Aggies have posted seven consecutive 20-win seasons and have won 24 games in each of the last three years.
“I have watched with interest the recent success and the NCAA tournament appearances the past six years,” Kennedy said in a statement. “I look forward to meeting the team and working toward a seventh NCAA bid as well as even deeper tournament runs.”
Texas A&M’s defense has been a hallmark of its recent success and Byrne believes Kennedy can build on that strength.
“His players play hard for him and they play an aggressive style of defense,” Byrne said. “He has proven he can recruit nationwide, but I look for him to make more inroads here in the state of Texas.”
Kennedy also has spent time at Wyoming, Tulane, Creighton, California, New Orleans, Southeastern Louisiana, Miami, Northwestern State and Centenary.
The hiring is pending approval by the Texas A&M System Board of Regents.
Murray State athletics director Allen Ward had nothing but good to say about Kennedy.
“I want to Congratulate Coach Kennedy for the opportunity he’s getting at Texas A&M,” Ward said. “I appreciate all he’s done for Murray State and the foundation he has built here. That foundation will be very beneficial as we move our program forward.”
Ward said the search for the Racers’ 15th head coach begins immediately.
“My first concern is the team and our student-athletes, that is my primary interest,” Ward said. “It’s certainly a different variable as what I’ve dealt with in the past. I think our program will speak to that more than anything, our program is an attractive job, I think we’ll have a great pool of candidates. My goal is to find the best coach available. If that can happen quicker rather than later, it’s better.”
The 2010-11 season saw the Racers win their second-straight Ohio Valley Conference regular-season championship and they made their second straight post-season appearance, when MSU played in the National Invitation Tournament. MSU’s 23-9 campaign came on the heels of their 31-5 season in 2009-10, which included a win in the NCAA Tournament.
MSU basketball has built an outstanding tradition over the years with an OVC-best 22 regular-season championships, and 14 appearances in the NCAA Tournament. After last season, the Racers have pushed their streak of consecutive winning seasons to 24. The streak is ranked fourth in the nation with Connecticut and behind only Syracuse (41), Kansas (28) and Arizona (27).