OXFORD, MS (WLBT) - Exactly one year after being publicly introduced at The Pavilion as the new leader of the Ole Miss men's basketball program, head coach Kermit Davis has agreed in principle to a new four-year contract. In his first season guiding the Rebels, the SEC Coach of the Year brought Ole Miss back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years with one of the biggest turnaround seasons in college basketball.
"Coach Davis has quickly established a very high standard for Ole Miss Basketball, and he's building our program for long term success," Ole Miss Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Ross Bjork said. "He's the perfect fit for our university, and we wanted to show a strong commitment to his leadership. The brand of Ole Miss Basketball is as strong as ever, and our fans have been terrific in their support and energy around our program. The most rewarding and enjoyable part is that this is only the beginning, and the best is yet to come. Congrats to our student-athletes and coaches for making the NCAA Tournament. Go Rebs!"
"Thanks so much to Ross Bjork and Chancellor Larry Sparks for the confidence they have demonstrated in me to lead Ole Miss Basketball for years to come," said Davis. "This has been one of the most rewarding years we have ever spent in college basketball! The Ole Miss spirit in Oxford, throughout our great state and the SEC footprint has been really amazing. To watch our staff, players and fan base connect in such a way to set The Pavilion attendance record is greatly appreciated. We will work to grow Ole Miss Basketball into a national brand."
The Leakesville, Mississippi, native has led one of the biggest turnarounds in the country, as the Rebels improved from 12-20 (5-13 SEC) a season ago to 20-12 (10-8 SEC) with March Madness on the horizon. The eight-win improvement is ranked 11th in the nation as well as the best among Power 5 schools.
The turnaround season allowed the Rebels to punch their ticket to the Big Dance for just the ninth time in program history. As a No. 8 seed in the South Region, its highest since the 2000-01 season, Ole Miss will face Oklahoma at 11:40 a.m. CT Friday (March 22) in Columbia, South Carolina. Leading the Rebels into March Madness, Davis is one of 62 coaches in the history of college basketball to take at least three schools to the NCAA Tournament.
Last week, Davis became the sixth Ole Miss men's basketball coach to earn SEC Coach of the Year honors. Davis was later tabbed as a finalist for the Jim Phelan Award, presented annually to the top coach in Division I men's basketball.
With 20 wins already, Davis is just the third active SEC head coach to win at least 20 games in his first season in the conference (John Calipari – Kentucky, Mike White – Florida). While Ole Miss was projected to finish last in the SEC, Davis got the Rebels off to a hot start. Ole Miss began conference play 3-0, helping Davis become the first Rebel head coach to win his first three SEC games. He was the second coach to win 13 of his first 15 games as well as the third coach in program history to win 20 games in his first season.
“On to the NCAA Tournament in Columbia to face a talented and very well coached Oklahoma team on Friday,” Davis said. “We look forward to seeing Rebel Nation follow our journey. Hotty Toddy!”