Wednesday afternoon the Texas A&M athletic department announced contract extensions for a few of their head coaches, with head men’s basketball coach Billy Kennedy being one of the recipients. There won’t be any changes to Kennedy’s contract from a compensation standpoint, but two years have been tacked onto a deal that was originally set to expire at the end of the 2015-16 season.
In discussing the move, Texas A&M athletic director Eric Hyman made note of the improvements the basketball program has made in the classroom as one reason why Kennedy has received the extension.
“Coach Kennedy understands our commitment to building champions both in the classroom and in competition,” Hyman said in the release. “Our basketball program has made tremendous strides academically under Billy’s leadership, while he has also raised the overall on-court talent level of our student-athletes.
“Our ultimate goal is to build the Texas A&M basketball program the right way, with a foundation for sustained postseason success.”
The process of building the program into one capable of returning to the NCAA tournament is now in its fourth season, with the Aggies looking to earn their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011. Forward Kourtney Roberson and guard Alex Caruso are among the returnees for a team that lost its lone double-digit scorer (Jamal Jones). Texas A&M adds four freshmen, with point guard Alex Robinson being the most noteworthy addition of the four.
In three seasons at Texas A&M, Kennedy has compiled a record of 50 wins and 49 losses.
With an 11-member setup the Sun Belt Conference has played a 20-game conference schedule the last couple of years, which may be seen as a positive when it comes to determining the regular season champion (home-and-home between every team). But for a conference that spans from North Carolina (Appalachian State) to Texas (UT-Arlington, Texas State) travel was far from easy in that setup.
And with Coastal Carolina joining next season, it was clear that the league needed to do something with its scheduling.
Thursday the Sun Belt members approved an 18-game conference schedule, which will begin with the 2016-17 season when the league consists of 12 members. Included in the agreement is the assignment of travel partners (similar to setups in the Pac-12 and Ivy League), and teams playing no more than three consecutive conference games on the road.
Schools will also be guaranteed at least five weekend home games during conference play, and there will be no more weekends in which teams play conference games both home and away (thus cutting down on travel). Obviously with the addition of Coastal Carolina the Sun Belt needed to make some changes in their scheduling, and this week the conference made the moves they needed to make.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.