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

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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 joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at www.acadianhouse.com, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.

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