FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 4, 1997
Contact: Christopher Norris, Sports Information Director, 318-869-5092
SHREVEPORT, LA -- Director of Athletics Russ Sharp today (4/4/97) named Billy Kennedy as the new head men's basketball coach for Centenary College. He takes over for Tommy Vardeman, who stepped down two weeks ago. week.
A Metairie, La. native, Kennedy comes to Centenary from the University of California at Berkeley where he has spent the last four years as an assistant, serving as the associate head coach for the last two.
"This is a great day for Centenary College basketball. I am very pleased with the addition of Billy Kennedy to our staff. He brings Louisiana roots, a national background, energy, and professionalism to the job," said Sharp.
"I am very excited to be back in Louisiana and have the opportunity to work at an outstanding academic institution like Centenary College," said Kennedy.
Although Centenary will be Kennedy's first college head coaching job, he brings 13 years of experience as an assistant coach at six Division I schools and an established record as one of the top young coaches in college basketball. Kennedy began his coaching career in 1985 while still attending Southeastern Louisiana. After graduating in 1986, he became a volunteer assistant at the University of New Orleans for a year before moving on to the University of Wyoming to become a graduate assistant under Benny Dees. That 1987-88 Cowboys team won the Western Athletic Conference title and earned a berth in the NCAA tournament.
His first full-time basketball job came a year later when he was hired to help direct the Demons of Northwestern State University. The following year, he moved on to Tulane University, helping build that program from the ground level through highly acclaimed recruiting efforts. A year later, he was hired as an assistant at Texas A&M for the 1990-91 season. He also served as an advance scout for the NBA San Antonio Spurs during that time. After that, he spent two years as an assistant at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. before moving on to the University of California.
He comes to Centenary from a Cal program that finished 23-9 this season and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tournament, losing to eventual Final Four participant North Carolina. The Bears finished 12-6 in the PAC-10, including wins over 15th ranked Stanford and eventual national champion, Arizona.
He takes over a Centenary team that finished with an overall record of 9-18 last year and lost to the College of Charleston in the first round of the Trans America Athletic Conference tournament. "I look forward to building a program that will be competitive in the TAAC year in and year out," said Kennedy. "It will take some time but I know that goal is possible at Centenary."
Kennedy's first order of business will be filling the Gents' open roster spots. He certainly knows talented basketball players when he sees them. Included among the players he has worked with are NBA stars Jason Kidd of the Phoenix Suns, Lemond Murray of the Los Angeles Clippers, Robert Pack of the Dallas Mavericks and NBA Shareef Abdur-Rahim of the Vancouver Grizzlies.
"I hope to build a program that is recognized for its tough fundamental, man-to-man defense. I also believe in pushing the basketball up the floor and scoring in transition," said Kennedy. "It should be an exciting brand of basketball to watch and play."
"I predict a great future of this program. I am sure that Billy will live up to the recommendations that have poured in over the last two weeks," said Sharp. He received phone calls in support of Kennedy from Joe Dean, athletic director at LSU; Wimp Sanderson, head basketball coach at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, and Craig Thompson, commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference.
"We are delighted to have Billy here at Centenary," said Centenary President Kenneth L. Schwab. "We look forward to his leadership of our basketball program for many years to come." After graduating from Holy Cross High School in New Orleans in 1982, Kennedy attended Delgado Community College where he played one year of basketball before concentrating on academic and coaching pursuits.
Kennedy is married to the former Cecile Scholl of Metairie and they have three children: Will, 9; Alexandra, 6, and Brooks, 2.