New Big 12 men's basketball coaches have connections

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Before they became new Big 12 head basketball coaches, Missouri’s Frank Haith and Texas A&M’s Billy Kennedy had already known each other nearly two decades.

Their friendship goes back to when Haith became a Texas A&M assistant in the early 1990s. They met after Kennedy had already been an Aggies assistant during a stretch of 12 seasons when he worked at eight different schools.

Later, after head-coaching stops at Centenary and Southeastern Louisiana, Kennedy spent the 2005-06 season as an assistant to Haith at Miami.

“I wanted someone that I trusted and had a lot of respect for,” Haith said Thursday during a conference call with Big 12 coaches. “Billy wanted another challenge, and by coming over to work with us at Miami, I thought he had a chance to get a better job or opportunity, and it did work out for him that way. He’s a great man, and also a great coach.”

Haith, who is also a former Texas assistant, and Kennedy are now going to be coaching against each other in the same league.

They account for half of the new coaches in the Big 12, a conference reduced to 10 teams after the departures of Nebraska and Colorado. The other newcomers are Oklahoma’s Lon Kruger and Texas Tech’s Billy Gillispie, who both had previous connections to the league.

Kruger is a former Kansas State coach, assistant and player.

Gillispie is returning to the Big 12 after four years away. He was Texas A&M’s coach from 2004-07.