By MICHAEL WARDLAW
Mississippi State University ended its 18-day search for a new head basketball coach on Sunday afternoon as Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin announced Rick Ray would assume the position with a formal introduction and press conference scheduled for Monday morning.
“Rick fits the model of head coach we have sought to bring into our program over the last several years,” Stricklin said in a university release. “He is bright, enthusiastic, disciplined and is a man of integrity. He has served with some of the top head and assistant coaches in college basketball and will bring a piece of all of them to our head coaching position.”
The former Clemson assistant has been with the Tigers for the past two seasons, including a 16-15 mark this past season.
Prior to his two seasons under Clemson head coach Brad Brownell he was on the Purdue staff of Matt Painter. Ray began his Division I coaching career at Indiana State, where he served for seven seasons.
“Rick Ray is an outstanding choice to lead our men’s basketball program,” MSU President Mark Keenum said in a release. “Once our fans meet him, I know they will share the same sentiment. I am impressed with his basketball philosophy and the vision he has articulated for taking Mississippi State basketball to a higher level. Rick has been successful everywhere he has coached. He is a winner and has a solid plan to put his brand on the program that will reflect the highest standards of integrity and accountability.”
Stricklin held true to his word on keeping the search out of the media as Ray’s name didn’t surface until Sunday afternoon. Several candidates received interest from Mississippi State including at least two offers being extended as late as last week.
Ray becomes the 19th head coach in MSU history and will address State fans for the first time at 10:30 a.m. on the floor of the Humphrey Coliseum. The public is invited and welcome to attend.