Eyeing Southern’s Roman Banks, Texas A&M announces staff opening

Texas A&M basketball coach Billy Kennedy brought some clarity to his coaching staff Saturday as he considered Southern coach Roman Banks for a prime role on it.

Kennedy told the Houston Chronicle that he had dismissed his top assistant, New Orleans native Glynn Cyprien. Banks said Friday the he had spoken with Kennedy about the top position on the staff.

Banks said via text message Saturday that he had not spoken with Kennedy again but expected to soon. They worked together at Southeastern Louisiana; Banks was Kennedy’s top assistant from 2003-05.

“It was in the best interest of our program to make changes that needed to be made,” Kennedy told the Chronicle. “Sometimes it’s best for both parties to go their different ways. We’ve got to get better, and we needed to make some changes to get better as a program.”

Kennedy was hired in 2011 and inherited a program that had made six consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament. But each of Kennedy’s three teams failed to reach the NCAA tournament or the NIT. A&M was 18-16 and 8-10 in the Southeastern Conference this season.

Banks was named Southwestern Athletic Conference Coach of the Year last season after leading the Jaguars to the conference’s regular-season championship despite an NCAA postseason ban. It was the second time Banks has won the award in three seasons at Southern.

He has four years left on a contract he signed 11 months ago. It calls for a base salary of $165,000 and incentives that can raise Banks’ income to more than $200,000. The contract does not include a buyout.

The Jaguars finished 19-13 after a 64-46 loss to Prairie View A&M in the second round of the SWAC tournament.

Banks said he would have a difficult choice to make if Kennedy were to offer him what he called “a very good position.”

His father, Cleophus, played basketball at Southern in the 1960s and is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame. Banks was a Southern assistant from 1996-2002, former Southern and NBA great Bob Love is his godfather and Banks’ brother, Carlos Sample, also is in the school’s Hall of Fame.

“I’m very excited about the future,” Banks said. “It would be a very difficult decision because Southern is embedded in me. I have personal attachments and I would like to try to move the program to a level they haven’t seen. We’re on the right path and I would like to try to continue that.”

Nonetheless, Banks said the uncertain length of the NCAA ban is a concern.