Kennedy's stock rises at Cincinnati
February 22, 2006
When the season began, Andy Kennedy had about as much chance of becoming the next coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats as he did of becoming coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.
But, you know, things change.
Kennedy now has become the leading contender to become the permanent head basketball coach at Cincinnati, according to a source close to the program. Previously an associate head coach and recruiting coordinator under Bob Huggins, Kennedy has served as interim coach since Huggins was removed from the job last August.
University president Nancy Zimpher, who made the move to force out Huggins, is said to be looking for an opportunity to gain favor with Cincinnati followers. Many of them still are angry that Huggins is no longer coach and that recruiting time has been sacrificed as the program has operated without its future determined. Kennedy has grown extremely popular with fans and media members through this season.
Part of that has been a result of the team's performance. It began the year short on players because two were dismissed from the program during the offseason, one recruit was denied admission and another was granted a release when Huggins was let go. After starting 13-2 with victories over LSU, Vanderbilt and Marquette, forward Armein Kirkland was lost for the year with a knee injury. The team lost five of its next six games, but since has recovered to win four of six, including a huge road victory at Syracuse.
Kennedy could lead the team to its 15th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. The Bearcats play Villanova at home Thursday and have games remaining against Seton Hall and West Virginia. They now are 18-9 overall, 7-6 in the Big East.