'I'm pleased with Andy'

ATLANTA, Ga. -- Athletics Director Pete Boone addressed the media regarding the future of head coach Andy Kennedy following Ole Miss' 75-66 loss to Kentucky Friday in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Ole Miss finished the season 20-13 overall and 7-9 in conference games, and won an opening-round game against South Carolina Thursday. The Rebels appear again headed to the National Invitation Tournament, marking the fourth NIT appearance in five years under Kennedy.

Boone lent his support to Kennedy, and said if he had it his way, he would return for a sixth year. Actually Boone said he expects Kennedy back on the Ole Miss sideline in 2011-12.

"I'm not pleased with the season, but I'm pleased with Andy," he said.

Boone said he and Kennedy will sit down in the next week or so to go over the season, and lay out a plan for the future of the program, including taking the next step to the NCAA Tournament. Ole Miss hasn't reached the NCAA Tournament in 10 years, its last appearance coming in 2001-02.

Boone expects Kennedy to return for a sixth season as head coach
Courtesy: Associated Press
"The things that we're going to talk about at the end of the year is how to get better, identifying any issues out there I can help with," Boone said. "Mainly, it's going to be one of those things where we're working together for next year.

"I think he's made a lot of progress. We've just got to work on the things, whatever it is, the things that we can do to move up to the next step. He's got great talent. He's got some good recruiting talent coming in. We'll be a (good) team next year."

As to Kennedy's contract and the possibility of an extension, Boone said the plan, which he will run by Kennedy when they talk, is to place some incentives in the contract -- goals to be achieved – for Kennedy to be granted a fourth year to his current contract.

"My thoughts are that we'll put in some incentives that it could be extended if they're achieved next year," Boone said. "I believe in incentives, but I'd like for everything to be fair on both sides. Let's put some incentives and goals in there that when success is achieved, he gets the benefit of that."

Kennedy is the only coach in school history to achieve four 20-win seasons in his tenure. With 105 wins, Kennedy has the most victories by an Ole Miss head coach in a five-year span.

But, as previously noted, he has yet to lead a team to the NCAA Tournament. Kennedy has admitted NCAA Tournament appearances are what coaches are ultimately judged by, and Boone understands that criticism, as well.

"The longer you're in the job, whether you're the AD or coach and you're not achieving all the fans' expectations every year, you're going to end up with a group of people that just may not be Andy Kennedy fans," Boone said. "But overall, I think he's got a lot of support. Along with that support, there's a lot of disappointment in trying to get to that next stage. Those are the things we've got to work on."

Boone said he will help Kennedy in any way he can.

"There's nothing urgent about trying to meet with Andy," he said. "Next week or so, we'll get together and discuss the season, evaluate the strengths and weaknesses, the progress made and plans. I have to view things in totality, and not the emotions of a game or even one particular season."

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