Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray has been fired, the university announced on Saturday afternoon.
In three seasons, Ray had a 37-60 (13-41 SEC) record, never finishing better than 11th in the conference standings.
“After much thought and deliberation, I have made the decision to replace Rick Ray as the Mississippi State men’s basketball coach,” Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin wrote in a statement. “This has been a difficult decision as I have the utmost respect for Rick, and am highly appreciative of the effort he put forth in leading our basketball program. To Rick’s credit, we have seen great strides from out student-athletes in several areas, including academics. However, the on-court results have not be satisfactory. In order for MSU to achieve success at the levels to which we aspire, I believe a change is necessary at this time.”
Ray took over a program in 2012 that saw a lot of turnover. Add in a few injuries and the wheels never seemed to get in motion for Ray and Co.
“I am saddened by the events of today,” Ray said in a statement released on Instagram. “Not for myself but for the players who have sacrificed their bodies and mind for me and the program; for signed and committed recruits who have to go through a coaching change after taking so much time and effort to make an educated decision about what is best for them and their future.”
Ray had a trio of three-star commits with hopes of keeping five-star shooting guard Malik Newman — son of former Bulldog, Horatio Webster — in state.
The Bulldogs were 13-19 this season.
UPDATE: An hour after Ray was relieved of his duties, Mississippi State lost its top recruit. D’Marcus Simonds, a top-60 prospect in the Class of 2016, announced he would reopen his recruitment.
“I had previously decided to commit to Mississippi State because of my relationship with Coach Ray and the staff,” Simonds wrote. “I love the campus and Mississippi State is a great place to be. This is just an unfortunate series of events.”
The 6-foot-4 shooting guard also held offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech and UConn, according to Rivals.