Mississippi State men’s basketball coach Rick Stansbury announced Thursday that he is retiring after 14 seasons.
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A red-eyed Stansbury said at a news conference on campus he "thought long and hard about this, but it’s time to start a new chapter and step away from coaching."
"My emotions are about happiness," Stansbury said. "I promise you."
Stansbury has led the Bulldogs to a 293-166 record, including 11 postseason appearances — but last went to the NCAA tournament in 2009. He averaged more than 20 wins per season and ranks ninth in wins in Southeastern Conference history.
But the Bulldogs collapsed at the end of this season, losing seven of their last nine games. The season ended on Tuesday with a 101-96 loss to Massachusetts in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
Stansbury, 52, said he and MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin met for more than two hours on Wednesday morning, and both of them agreed the veteran coach would likely retire. Stansbury said he slept on the decision Wednesday night, and felt comfortable on Thursday morning.
"A lot of coaches can stay at one spot too long," Stansbury said. "I don’t want to be one of those coaches."
Stansbury has two years remaining on a contract that pays about $1.5 million per year with incentives, but Stricklin would not disclose details about a buyout.
Stansbury said he plans to keep his family in Starkville and work in some capacity for Mississippi State, where he’s been for 22 years, counting time as an assistant coach. He was an assistant under head coach Richard Williams in 1996 when the Bulldogs went to their only Final Four.
Stricklin said Stansbury’s role in the athletic department hasn’t yet been defined, but he was pleased the coach "will keep his talents at Mississippi State."
"This place owes Rick and (his wife) Meo a huge thank you," Stricklin said.
As the head coach, Stansbury won one SEC regular-season championship, two SEC tournament championships and five SEC Western Division titles. He has a 122-102 record in SEC play. His teams played in six NCAA tournaments, but never advanced past the second round.
The program struggled over the past few seasons on and off the court. The Bulldogs finished with a 17-14 record in 2011 in a season best known for a nationally-televised fistfight between Renardo Sidney and Elgin Bailey in the stands during a tournament in Hawaii.
Stansbury said he didn’t know if he would have retired had the Bulldogs rallied and made the NCAA tournament this season. But he was adamant about his peace with the decision.
"That’s a good question, but I can tell you this, it’s not about being tired even though I’ve done it for 28 years," Stansbury said. "It’s really about this stage of my life."