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Ole Miss basketball coach Andy Kennedy steps down, effective immediately

The Rebels are 11-15 this season.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The Andy Kennedy era is over for Ole Miss. Kennedy announced last Monday that he would resign at season’s end, but after going 0-2 this week against Arkansas and in-state rival Mississippi State, he sent a letter to Ole Miss on Sunday that he will resign immediately. It’s over for AK and Ole Miss.

Kennedy had two years remaining on his contract with Ole Miss, which the school will honor as he moves on from Oxford after 12 years of steering the ship. He ends his career at Ole Miss as the winningest coach in Rebel history, with 245 wins and 155 losses.

The Rebels are just 11-15 this season, and 4-9 in a suddenly improved SEC. The program made the NCAA tournament twice in Kennedy’s tenure, most recently in 2015. Entering this season, Ole Miss had won 20 or more games in seven of the last eight years.

Kennedy has clearly been frustrated this season, describing his team as a “disaster” after a loss to Illinois State in December. Only Vanderbilt has a worse record in SEC play than the Rebels at the moment.

Kennedy’s resignation letter cites his failure to “relieve any external pressure being felt by current players.” Written in his familiarly candid style, it reads in part:

My announcement on Monday, February 12, declaring my impending resignation was intended to:

1. Lift “the cloud” forming over our program due to continued speculation regarding my future as head coach.

2. Stop any divisive distraction that the speculation was causing among our supporters (Rebel Nation) and all Ross to move forward with securing the next head coach for the program.

3. Relieve any external pressure being felt by our current players.

While I believe the first two of these intended goals were accomplished, the third was not.

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 coached one season at Cincinnati before taking the Ole Miss job in 2006, electing to take on a difficult gig in his home state after assistant stints with the likes of current South Carolina head coach Frank Martin under Bob Huggins.

The most interesting wrinkle here is that, given the names of available college coaches out there at the moment, Kennedy sits near the top of the list of prospective guys in the country to land a head coaching spot where an opening appears. He’ll almost certainly be barking out orders somewhere next season.