UPDATE AS OF 4:58 PM
The same Houston Chronicle article was just updated with the following opening paragraph
COLLEGE STATION — Texas A&M basketball coach Billy Kennedy will not be back for a ninth season, a person with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday.
We will wait for the University to confirm, which we still expect to happen when our season is formally over.
The plot thickens, folks.
A topic that has mostly existed on message boards and shoddy blogs (sup) is starting to see the light of day, as Billy Kennedy’s job status was formally questioned in a recent article posted by Brent Zwernemann of the Houston Chronicle.
The article stops short of naming a source that specifically has knowledge of the situation, but it does reference two key points that align with our understanding.
Here we go.
The Current Attendance Situation is Untenable
Home attendance was really bad down the stretch, so much so that Kennedy (who often receives softballs) was asked a legitimately uncomfortable question about the sharp decline in fan support.
Billy Kennedy on what he expects his future to be at Texas A&M (he anticipates being back) and his thoughts on only a few thousand fans showing up at Reed Arena late in the season. The 11 seed Aggies play 14 seed Vanderbilt on Wednesday night in the SEC Tournament in Nashville: pic.twitter.com/OTeo3njon8— Brent Zwerneman (@BrentZwerneman) March 12, 2019
Kennedy’s response, which is covered in part below, passes the buck a little but also accepts a pretty large share of the blame.
Last week in A&M’s regular-season home finale, a 71-54 loss to South Carolina, only a few thousand fans were on hand in 13,000-seat Reed Arena. Kennedy knows that’s a concern for a sport that’s supposed to be a moneymaker for the athletic department.
”We want to have this place packed, and we’ve had it packed before,” Kennedy said. “Throughout the last few years, even last year when we were fifth in the country and playing Buffalo, we would have liked to have had more fans in here.”
The listed attendance for that Dec. 21, 2017, game was 6,654, and that number is typically inflated because it’s based on tickets sold.
”All we can do is focus on putting the best product on the floor,” Kennedy continued. “At times, we have had a good product on the floor. This year (we) understand when you’re not winning games people are not going to come. You’ve got to win to get people in the stands, and we’ve got to do a better job of that.”
That’s an important factor, because…
Kennedy’s Contract Only Runs Through 2021
This is a huge piece of the puzzle, and one that’s oddly not discussed very often.
Kennedy’s contract runs through 2021 and pays nearly $2.5 million annually, placing him 42nd nationally among coaches according to a USA Today database. Barring an SEC Tournament miracle, Kennedy will have missed the NCAA Tournament in six of his eight seasons, but the two successful years resulted in the Sweet 16 showings.
We can’t send Kennedy on the recruiting trail with only one additional year remaining on his deal - that’s hoops recruiting suicide. As such, our decision is not to terminate or retain… it’s to terminate or extend.
When you consider the attendance troubles listed above, the current level of fan interest, and the shifting landscape of college basketball in the state of Texas… an extension seems really unlikely.
I’ll stand by my original prediction: Kennedy will be removed from service (softly, and with a term used besides “fired”) relatively quickly after this season is over.
Time to pick a side, friends
This poll is closed
Extend Billy Kennedy
Find a new Head Coach