Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Men's College Basketball [Print without images]

Sunday, May 15, 2011
Texas A&M hires Billy Kennedy as coach

By Andy Katz
ESPN.com

Billy Kennedy has decided to leave Murray State and become the next coach at Texas A&M.

"I think he is the perfect fit for Texas A&M. In talking to several people who I respect in college basketball, they mentioned Billy as an outstanding basketball coach but an even better person," athletic director Bill Byrne said in a school statement. "He is a winner and his players play hard for him and they play an aggressive style of defense. He has proven he can recruit nationwide, but I look for him to make more inroads here in the state of Texas."

Billy Kennedy
Murray State's Billy Kennedy has accepted the head coaching job and will replace Mark Turgeon at Texas A&M.

Financial terms were not released, but a source close to one of the previous candidates said earlier Sunday that the Aggies were prepared to offer their new coach $1.3 million to $1.5 million a year.

"I can't wait to get back to Aggieland," Kennedy, a former assistant at A&M, said in a statement. "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."

The 47-year-old Kennedy will be introduced on the campus Monday.

Byrne and associate athletic director John Thornton met with Kennedy early Saturday and then flew to Fargo, N.D., to meet with Northern Iowa's Ben Jacobson, but Jacobson chose to stay put.

The Aggies had been debating between the two candidates to succeed Mark Turgeon, who was announced as Maryland's head coach last week, with Jacobson having an impressive interview, according to another source.

But Kennedy's ties to Texas A&M and his recruiting strength in Texas and nearby Louisiana, where he was a former head coach in the state, may have swayed the hire in Kennedy's favor.

Assistant coach Scott Spinelli was a fallback candidate, but will now go to Maryland with Turgeon.

Seth Allen, a 6-foot-1 guard out of Fredericksburg (Md.) Christian School in the class of 2012, was being recruited by Spinelli and Turgeon to Texas A&M a month ago. But on Saturday, Allen committed to Maryland as Turgeon's first recruit.

Murray State won the Ohio Valley Conference regular season title in March with a 14-4 record under Kennedy. The No. 1 seed in the OVC tournament, the Racers were upset by Tennessee Tech. Murray State then played Missouri State in the first round of the NIT and lost on the road to finish 23-9.

In 2010, Murray State won 31 games (17-1 OVC) and knocked off Vanderbilt in the first round of the NCAA tournament before losing to eventual national runner-up Butler in the second round.

Kennedy took over for Mick Cronin in 2006 when Cronin left for Cincinnati. Kennedy has worked in various capacities at Southeastern Louisiana, New Orleans, Wyoming, Northwestern State (La.), Tulane, Texas A&M for one season, Creighton, Cal, Centenary and Miami (Fla.) before Murray State.

Kennedy was coach at Centenary and Southeastern Louisiana and worked for Frank Haith at Miami, who is now at Missouri. Kennedy is from Metairie, La., just outside New Orleans.

Andy Katz is a senior college basketball writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.