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Mississippi State Coach Ben Howland Let Go, But To Coach Team At NIT Should It Receive Bid

A fourth Southeastern Conference men’s basketball coach has been let go in the space of four days.

Mississippi State coach Ben Howland will not return next season, but he will coach the team in the National Invitation Tournament should the Bulldogs (18-15) receive an NIT bid, a Mississippi State athletic department source confirmed to OutKick on Sunday afternoon.

Two other sources with ties to Mississippi State said earlier Sunday that Howland was let go.

Howland, 64, has been Mississippi State’s head coach since the 2015-16 season after taking UCLA to the Final Four in 2006, ’07 and ’08 with a national championship game loss to Florida in 2006. He took UCLA to seven NCAA Tournaments in all and took Pittsburgh to two NCAA Sweet 16s in his last two seasons there in 2002 and ’03.

State went 1-1 in the SEC Tournament in Tampa, Florida, with a 72-59 loss to Tennessee on Friday and a 73-51 win over South Carolina on Thursday. The Bulldogs were the No. 10 seed in the SEC Tournament after finishing 8-10 in the regular season.

State was the NIT runner-up in the 2021 season and finished 18-15. The Bulldogs finished the 2019-20 season at 20-11 and fourth in the SEC at 11-7 and likely would have reached the NCAA Tournament, but COVID-19 canceled the season.

Howland took the Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament only once in the 2018-19 season before a loss in the first round. The Bulldogs finished 23-11 overall and sixth in the SEC at 10-8 that season. He reached the NIT semifinal in the 2017-18 season and finished 25-12 with a 9-9 mark in the SEC for seventh. He was 134-97 in seven seasons in Starkville and 59-67 in the SEC.

Previously this week, Georgia coach Tom Crean was fired on Thursday. Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin was fired on Friday, and LSU coach Will Wade was fired on Saturday.

 

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau has been on the LSU beat since 1998 with multiple outlets in Louisiana, prior to that he had covered both Auburn and Alabama. He won first place for his game feature on LSU's upset at Florida last season from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He was also named Beat Writer of Year, by Louisiana Sports Writers Association in July; placed in three Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) categories – Beat Writer, Explanatory, Game Coverage – last spring. Guilbeau was also the FWAA first-place winner for columns in 2017 and was also the top overall winner in 2016 FWAA placing first for his game story, second in columns, and receiving honorable mention for features.

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