Former Murray State head coach and one-time Aggie assistant Billy Kennedy was named the 21st men's basketball coach at Texas A&M on May 16, 2011.
The 48-year-old Kennedy, the two-time Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year, came to Aggieland after five seasons at the helm at Murray State University in Kentucky. There, he guided the Racers to a winning record in each year of his tenure. In his last two seasons at Murray State, his team posted a combined 54-14 record, back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference championships and consecutive trips to the postseason.
"I couldn’t wait to get back to Aggieland," Kennedy said. "Even though I was there for only a short time, I could tell Aggieland is a special place. Aggies have great pride and passion for their school and their athletic programs. I have watched with interest the recent success and the NCAA Tournament appearances the past six years. I look forward to meeting the team and working toward a seventh NCAA bid as well as even deeper tournament runs."
Over his last eight years as a head coach, Kennedy's teams have averaged just under 21 wins per season, earned four conference titles and made three trips to the postseason--two to the NCAA Tournament and one in the NIT.
Kennedy’s final season MSU in 2010-11 concluded with a 23-9 campaign, one which saw the Racers capture the OVC regular-season title for the second straight year and earn a spot in the National Invitation Tournament. Kennedy won his second straight OVC Coach of the Year honor for his efforts.
In an outstanding 2009-10 season, Kennedy guided Murray State to a 31-5 mark, the OVC regular-season and tournament titles and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. There, his Racers upset Vanderbilt in the first round--the program's first tourney win since 1988--before falling in the final seconds of the second round to eventual national runner-up Butler. It was the best season in the program's 85-year history.
Kennedy was named NABC District-19 Coach of the Year following the 2009-10 season and was also a finalist for the Skip Prosser Award and Hugh Durham Award. The Racers were also honored with the OVC Men's Basketball Sportsmanship Award in voting by the leagues' head coaches.
In Kennedy's five seasons at MSU, the Racers went 70-24 in OVC play en route to two league championships and three runner-up finishes.
Kennedy came to Murray State after serving the 2005-06 season as an assistant to current Missouri coach Frank Haith at the University of Miami. During that stint, Kennedy helped lead the Hurricanes to the quarterfinals of the NIT with an 18-16 record and wins that year over North Carolina, Maryland, Wake Forest and Oklahoma State.
Before Miami, Kennedy was the head coach for six seasons at his alma mater, Southeastern Louisiana. In his final two seasons at SLU, Kennedy guided the Lions to a 44-18 record, two Southland Conference regular-season titles and the school's first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.
He was named Coach of the Year by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (District 8) in back-to-back years, and was named SLC Coach of the Year in 2004.
His 2004-05 squad posted a 24-9 record, the best in school history, won its second consecutive Southland Conference title with a 13-3 league mark, claimed the school's first conference tournament championship and advanced to face Oklahoma State in the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to taking over at SLU, Kennedy spent two seasons (1997-99) as head coach at Centenary College where he was able to turn the program around in just two seasons. Centenary went from only six wins in 1997-98 to a 14-14 mark in his final season.
Before his first head coaching job at Centenary, the Metairie, La., native spent 11 seasons as an assistant coach at seven Division I schools, including Texas A&M for the 1990-91 season. Kennedy's other stops included New Orleans, Wyoming, Northwestern State, Tulane, Creighton and California.
He helped lead New Orleans to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 1987. That year, UNO was a 13-seed when they upset 2-seed BYU before falling to Alabama. Kennedy also assisted Wyoming's run to the NCAA Tournament in 1988. During his four seasons at California, the Golden Bears had two 20-win seasons and made three appearances in the NCAA Tournament--with one trip to the Sweet 16.
He earned a solid reputation as a recruiter early in his career while an assistant at Cal, where three of his classes were considered among the best in the nation. Kennedy recruited Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Tony Gonzalez to the Cal program.
Kennedy's basketball philosophy starts with a rock-solid foundation of tough, in-your-face defense.
His 2009-10 Murray State team dominated the court on defense and were part of a group of only eight teams that led their conference in overall field-goal percentage (.499) and field-goal percentage defense (.387). The Racers led the OVC in scoring defense, field goal percentage defense, three-point percentage defense, blocked shots and steals, while holding the opponent's leading scorer under his average in 31 of 36 games.
Under Kennedy's watch, the Racers led the league in defending the three-point shot for the four his five seasons and scoring defense in each of the last three seasons. His team ranked in the top four in field-goal percentage defense every year, leading the league three times.
Kennedy received his Bachelor of Arts degree in social studies education from Southeastern Louisiana University in 1986. He was a star basketball player at Holy Cross High School in New Orleans before attending Delgado Community College, where he earned an associate of arts degree in general studies in 1984.
He is still a big fan of his hometown team, the New Orleans Saints, and was thrilled to see the Saints win the Super Bowl in 2010.
A class act off the court as well, Kennedy was presented this April with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes 2011 John Lotz "Barnabas" Award at the Final Four in Houston. The award is presented by the FCA to a basketball coach who best exhibits a commitment to Christ, integrity, encouragement to others and lives a balanced life.
Kennedy is married to the former Mary Ethredge, and he has four children, Will, Lexie, Brooks and Anna Cate.
THE KENNEDY FILE
- Hometown: Metairie, Louisiana
- Birthdate: February 2, 1964
- Education: Holy Cross High School (New Orleans, La.)
Southeastern Louisiana University, 1986 (B.A., Social Studies Education)
- Wife: the former Mary Ethridge
- Children: Will, Lexie, Brooks, Anna Cate
KENNEDY'S COACHING CAREER
- 2011-: Texas A&M (Head Coach)
- 2006-11: Murray State (Head Coach)
- 2005-06: Miami, Fla. (Assistant Coach)
- 1999-05: Southeastern Louisiana (Head Coach)
- 1997-99: Centenary (Head Coach)
- 1993-97: California (Assistant Coach)
- 1991-93: Creighton (Assistant Coach)
- 1990-91: Texas A&M (Assistant Coach)
- 1989-90: Tulane (Assistant Coach)
- 1988-89: Northwestern State (Assistant Coach)
- 1987-88: Wyoming (Graduate Assistant Coach)
- 1986-87: New Orleans (Volunteer Assistant Coach)
- 1985-86: Southeastern Louisiana (Student Asst. Coach)
HONORS AND AWARDS
- 2011 Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year
- 2011 FCA John Lotz "Barnabas" Award
- 2010 Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year
- 2010 NABC District 19 Coach of the Year
- 2010 finalist, Skip Prosser Award
- 2010 finalist, Hugh Durham Award
- 2005 Louisiana Sports Writers Assn. Coach of the Year
- 2005 Louisiana Assn. of Basketball Coaches Coach of the Year
- 2005 NABC District 8 Coach of the Year
- 2004 Southland Conference Coach of the Year
- 2004 Louisiana Sports Writers Assn. Coach of the Year
- 2004 Louisiana Assn. of Basketball Coaches Coach of the Year
- 2004 NABC District 8 Coach of the Year
HEAD COACHING RECORD
- Centenary (2 seasons, 1997-99): 24-34
- Southeastern Louisiana (6 seasons, 1999-05): 80-92
- Murray State (5 seasons, 2006-11): 107-53
- Texas A&M (1 season, 2011-current): 14-18
- CAREER (14 seasons): 225-197
- 1985-86: Southeastern Louisiana (10-18)
- 1986-87: New Orleans (26-4, NCAA 2nd Round)
- 1987-88: Wyoming (26-6, NCAA)
- 1988-89: Northwestern State (13-16)
- 1989-90: Tulane (4-24)
- 1990-91: Texas A&M (8-21)
- 1991-92: Creighton (9-19)
- 1992-93: Creighton (8-18)
- 1993-94: California (22-8, NCAA)
- 1994-95: California (13-14)
- 1995-96: California (17-11, NCAA)
- 1996-97: California (23-9, NCAA Sweet 16)
- 1997-98: Centenary* (10-20)
- 1998-99: Centenary* (14-14)
- 1999-00: Southeastern Louisiana* (10-17)
- 2000-01: Southeastern Louisiana* (8-21)
- 2001-02: Southeastern Louisiana* (7-20)
- 2002-03: Southeastern Louisiana* (11-16)
- 2003-04: Southeastern Louisiana* (20-9, SLC Champs)
- 2004-05: Southeastern Louisiana* (24-9, SLC Champs, SLC Trny Champs, NCAA Tournament)
- 2005-06: Miami, Fla. (18-16, NIT Quarterfinals)
- 2006-07: Murray State* (16-14)
- 2007-08: Murray State* (18-13)
- 2008-09: Murray State* (19-12)
- 2009-10: Murray State* (31-5, OVC Champs, OVC Trny Champs, NCAA 2nd Round)
- 2010-11: Murray State* (23-9, OVC Champs, NIT)
- 2011-12: Texas A&M* (14-18)
* head coach
What They're Saying...
"I was recruited by Coach Kennedy and I have remained close friends
with him throughout. My younger brother (Amir) played for Billy at
Southeastern Louisiana and then coached with him at Murray State before
taking a job recently at Georgia Tech. His basketball success and
coaching ability speaks for itself, but what has impressed me most is
his consistency of being a good person all of these years. When I was
recruited, it was about how you carry yourself, both on and off of the
basketball court. It was about the total person, not just being a
basketball player. He has remained the same, all of these years. I have
a son who is nine and if he is fortunate enough to be considered as a
Division I-caliber basketball player, I would want him to play for
Coach Billy Kennedy. I know Billy would care for him and help develop
the entire person."
Sacramento Kings Asst. General Manager
former NBA Player (Vancouver Grizzlies, Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings)
1996 NBA Draft First Round Pick (#3 overall)
played college basketball at California
"I was first met Billy when he was at Texas A&M and then he did
some part-time scouting for the Spurs. I have a great respect for him
and his basketball coaching abilities, as well as for the type of
person he is. Personally, I am excited for Billy, but I am equally
excited for Texas A&M because he will do a great job of leading the
basketball program. He is a very good team builder and mentor for
these young men. He is about family. His wife and daughter are part of
the basketball family. He develops a great environment to be able to
achieve success on the basketball court and in life. I have a great
respect for him and he is a high character person and an outstanding
San Antonio Spurs General Manager
"I have known Billy for a number of years and he is an outstanding
basketball coach. More importantly, he is a person of great moral and
ethical character. He has a high level of integrity and Texas A&M
has hired a good coach, but an even better person."
Vanderbilt Head Basketball Coach
"I couldn't be happier for Billy. He is a great coach, a great
friend and an even better person. The fit in College Station is an
outstanding one. Billy has had a great deal of success recruiting in
the southwest, in particular the states of Texas and Louisiana, so
Texas A&M is getting an excellent coach who will fit the long-term
vision of that university."
Missouri Head Basketball Coach