Kennedy goes to Ole Miss
BY BILL KOCH | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Andy Kennedy never gave University of Cincinnati athletic director Mike Thomas the chance to tell him he wasn’t getting the job as UC’s head basketball coach on a permanent basis.
Shortly after the Bearcats’ 65-62 loss to South Carolina ended Thursday night, UC’s interim head coach told associate athletic director Brian Teter that he wanted to meet with Thomas.
By then, Kennedy – who posted a 21-13 record and led his team to the National Invitation Tournament in his first season as a head coach – already knew he had been named the new head basketball coach at Mississippi.
Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone had called him moments after the game ended.
“I met with them in the morning,” Kennedy said late Thursday night. “The meeting went well. (Boone) called before the game and wished me well and said he wanted to contact me after the game.”
Kennedy was interviewed in Cincinnati on Thursday by Boone, chancellor Robert Khayat and senior associate athletic director for finance John Hartwell for the Rebels’ vacant head coaching position.
Kennedy, 38, said he didn’t know for sure that he had the Ole Miss job before taking the court, “but I had a good vibe.”
“It wasn’t officially offered until the game was over,” he said.
He is to be introduced at a press conference today in Oxford, Miss.
Kennedy’s departure from UC, he said, is the best thing for everyone involved, even though that may be difficult for some to hear.
“I just feel it’s in everybody’s best interest to close the chapter and move forward,” Kennedy said, “because I’m a direct link with Coach Huggins and that’s not going to change. I have never distanced myself from Coach Huggins. I think the true testaments of a man are loyalty and honesty. I’ve tried to do both.”
Kennedy, who spent five years at UC, said he didn’t think much about the Ole Miss job during the game.
“My focus was on the kids,” he said, “that hopefully we could finish strong.”
The Mississippi job is an attractive one for Kennedy, who was born in Louisville, Miss.
“They say you can’t go home again,” Kennedy said, “but that’s not true. When you have an opportunity to go home and be part of the University of Mississippi and serve as its ambassador, it’s a tremendous opportunity for me and my family. I’m tremendously excited about it.”
Kennedy said his meeting with Thomas was professional.
“We did a little business,” he said. “I told him I appreciated the opportunity to talk with other people. We exchanged pleasantries and shared some things from both a personal and professional standpoint.”
Kennedy pointed out that there’s an element of symmetry to the way this worked out and wished new UC coach Mick Cronin, a Cincinnati native, a UC graduate and a former UC assistant coach, well in his new job.
It was Cronin’s departure to Louisville, where he served as associate head coach for two years under Rick Pitino from 2001-03, that created the vacancy that Kennedy filled at UC.
“Five years later, we’ve both come full circle,” Kennedy said. “I think I have an opportunity to go home and Mick has an opportunity to go home.”