After a few days of sources saying the Bulldogs would name Ben Howland their next head coach, Mississippi State athletics director Scott Stricklin made it official Monday announcing Howland as the new head basketball coach at Mississippi State.
Howland, who last coached at UCLA, comes to Starkville after two years out of the coaching ranks. While at UCLA, Howland led UCLA to four regular season Pac-12 titles (2006, 2007, 2008, 2013), and he also led the Bruins to three consecutive Final Fours from 2006-2008. In ten years at UCLA, Howland led the Bruins to seven NCAA tournament births, a birth the Bulldogs have not received since 2009.
Howland cut his head coaching teeth at Northern Arizona, transforming a woebegone Lumberjack program to an annual contender for the NCAA tournament. After a 9-17 season and a 7-19 season, Howland's squad captured the Big Sky regular season championship with a 21-7 record, which set the school mark for the most wins in a season for the program. In 1997-1998 season, the Lumberjacks captured both the regular season and tournament championships to advance to the NCAA tournament where the No. 15-seeded Lumberjacks fell on a buzzer beater three-point basket by the No. 2 seeded Cincinnati Bearcats.
In 1999, Howland became the head coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers. In his second season, he led the Panthers to the NIT. In his last two seasons at Pittsburgh, he led the Panthers to back-to-back Sweet 16 births and the Big East Tournament championship in 2003.
Stricklin noted that Howland has been successful at each of his head coaching stops.
"We have a coach who is a proven winner that's taken three schools to the NCAA Tournament," Stricklin said in a release from the university. "Ben is someone who is ready to invest in the people of Mississippi and Bulldogs everywhere, while bringing championship basketball back to the Hump. Mississippi State basketball can compete at the highest level, just as several of our other teams have done in recent years, and I'm excited to have coach Howland lead us back to that level."
In Howland's 19 years as a head coach, his teams have reached ten NCAA tournaments, five Sweet Sixteens, and three Final Fours. In the process of compiling a 401-206 career record, Howland has picked up Coach of the Year honors in three conferences: Big Sky (1997), Big East (2002), and Pac-10 (2006).
Howland will be officially introduced Tuesday afternoon at a press conference on the floor of the Humphrey Coliseum at 2:30. The press conference is open to fans.