COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M Director of Athletics Scott Woodward announced Friday afternoon that the university was parting ways with head men's basketball coach Billy Kennedy. Texas A&M says a national search is now underway for a new head men’s basketball coach.
In eight seasons at Texas A&M, Kennedy held an overall record of 151-116, including four NCAA tournament victories- the most of any men's basketball coach in Texas A&M history.
“Billy’s tenure included some great memories and remarkable achievements,” Woodward said. “He represented our program and Texas A&M University with distinction. Without question, Billy Kennedy is a first-class person. On behalf of Aggies everywhere, my thanks to Billy and his family for his service to Texas A&M. I wish him the very best.”
Kennedy's final game was an 80-54 loss to Mississippi State on Thursday night in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals in Nashville. That loss wrapped up a disappointing 14-18 season for the Aggies, who made Sweet 16 appearances in the NCAA tournament in 2016 and 2018.
“My family and I are grateful for the chance we’ve had to be Aggies," said Kennedy. "We have forever been impacted by the amazing Aggie family we have been allowed to embrace. The memories we have made are only possible because of the players, coaches, staff and administration that have been on this journey with us. I am especially grateful to Bill Byrne for making the first call, to Eric Hyman for staying the course, and to Scott Woodward for continuing to believe. I am grateful that God called me to Aggieland and blessed me with the opportunity to enjoy great moments in Aggie history while here. This is a special place and it has been a blessing to represent this university.”
Billy Kennedy was named the Aggies' twenty-first head coach in May 2011, but took a leave of absence just five months later, after announcing he was dealing with the early stage of Parkinson's Disease. Associate Head Coach Glynn Cyprien was in charge of the team for an exhibition game against Dallas Baptist and the team's season opener against Liberty, but Kennedy was on hand for the second game of the 2011-2012 season against Southern and never missed another game during his eight seasons on the Aggie bench.
Kennedy's teams made their first appearance in a postseason tournament in 2014, following an 18 win campaign that took them to the College Basketball Invitational. The next year, Kennedy's Aggies accepted a spot at the National Invitation Tournament, in what ended up being a springboard to the program's best season under Coach Kennedy.
The 2015-2016 season saw the Aggies claim a regular season co-championship in the SEC, with Kennedy named the league's coach of the year. Texas A&M advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time in four seasons, and their first trip to the Sweet 16 since 2007 thanks to a double overtime win against Northern Iowa.
Coach Kennedy and the Aggies were not able to build on the team's school-record 28 wins from the 2015-2016 season, and struggled to a 16-15 mark the following year.
The 2017-2018 campaign was a different story, though, with Kennedy's highly heralded 2015 recruiting class paying big dividends. Tyler Davis, DJ Hogg and Admon Gilder were joined by Robert Williams and led the team to a 22-13 record and another Sweet 16 appearance, defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels in their home state in Charlotte to advance.
After losing three starters before this season, however, Kennedy acknowledged his 2018-2019 campaign would be a challenge. During the course of the year, both Admon Gilder and T.J. Starks sufferied season-ending injuries. Still, Kennedy remained positive.
"I'm really proud of our guys and my staff for hanging together and doing what we've been able to do, because a lot of teams would have folded, and this group has been resilient and done a good job," Kennedy told KBTX earlier this season.
The core values Kennedy brought to Texas A&M were widely recognized, and perhaps best summed up in a 2016 speech he gave at KBTX's Classroom Champions banquet.
“Don't settle on just being a winner,” said Kennedy. “Don't settle on being good. Desire to be a great husband, a great wife. Desire to be a great father, a great mother. Desire to be a great employee, a great student. Strive for excellence. Strive for greatness, and I always say, the best is yet to come when you do that.”