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Andy Kennedy met with media members on Monday afternoon to catch up on what has been a news-filled time for the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) men’s basketball team.

He expressed gratitude for a new contract, discussed his team’s non-conference schedule, gave his thoughts on how summer workouts have gone and detailed a needed step for the program’s future progress.

The freshest news surrounds a non-conference slate that features games at Bartow Arena against South Carolina, South Alabama and Jacksonville, a game against Toledo in Philadelphia, a road trip to West Virginia and a Daytona Beach tournament that includes South Florida, Georgia and St. Joseph’s.

“The one difference is this is the first year we’re going to 20 league games. It took away two non-conference opportunities,” Kennedy said. “I think it gives us the structure of a non-conference schedule to learn about ourselves. It gives us quality opportunities.”

South Carolina is only the third SEC team to come to Bartow Arena in the past nine seasons. West Virginia is a return trip after the Mountaineers came to Birmingham last season. UAB opens the Daytona Beach tournament against former Conference USA foe and future America Athletic Conference mate South Florida. The rivalries with South Alabama and Jacksonville will also be rekindled.

Kennedy said he is generally not in favor of a 20-game conference schedule. However, with 11 teams currently in the conference, he thinks it makes sense this season.

“The best way to get a true champion is to play a round robin. That’s difficult to do with these super conferences,” Kennedy said. “With us, it gives you a true champion. Everybody is going to play everybody, home and away. I was in favor of that.”

In the future, though, Kennedy said fewer conference games gives coaches the ability to build a schedule that is beneficial for their program.

“I would like to have more flexibility in the non-league because I think that’s the best way to build your resume for postseason,” Kennedy said. “This year, that wasn’t the case so we’ll just have to deal with it as it is.”

Kennedy received his contract extension last week, which was first reported by 1819 News. He received a bump in pay to $900,000 per year in base salary and will receive a yearly pay increase of $100,000 until the contract is complete on March 31, 2028.

Incentives include:

*Conference Tournament championship, $50,000

*Naismith College Coach of the Year, $50,000

*Conference Coach of the Year, $35,000

*NCAA Tournament bid, $25,000

*First 4 win, $25,000

*First round win, $50,000

*Second round win, $75,000

*Sweet 16 win, $100,000

*Elite 8 win, $125,000

*National semifinal win, $175,000

*National championship, $250,000

*Top 25 final poll, AP, $15,000

*NIT Final 4, $10,000

*NIT championship, $15,000

*20 wins & KenPom min. of 100, $25,000

*20 wins & KenPom min. of 75, $50,000

*25 wins & KenPom min. of 50, $100,000

The contract buyout begins at $700,000 following the 2022-23 season and decreases by $100,000 each year.

“I’m certainly appreciative of the belief they have in the trajectory of the program,” Kennedy said. “I think we have accomplished some things in the first two years and certainly created definitive momentum. Now, it’s our job to capitalize on that. We’re really excited about our practice facilities. We’re in some real talks about Bartow Arena and updating it to the new standard for intercollegiate athletics. I’m really excited about the guys who are working out here behind me.”

Kennedy said in some ways he doesn’t approach the contract as a six-year deal.

“I got a book on my desk upstairs. Rick Pitino wrote a book called the ‘One Day Contract,’” Kennedy said. “I’ve got six years on a contract, and I’m thankful for those. But I honestly operate on a one-day contract. If you watch me work today, would it be enough to allow me to come to work tomorrow? That’s really been my philosophy throughout my career. I just finished my 25th year in college coaching, my 15th as a head coach, so it’s obviously served me well.”

Kennedy said the talks about Bartow Arena upgrades are critical for the future of the program.

“We’re in a different age,” Kennedy said. “When I played and you wanted to see the Blazers, guess what, you had to get in your car and you had to come down here and had to go to the game. Now, with technology the way it is, you can sit there and watch 30 games on your phone. You’ve got to add an entertainment aspect that currently Bartow is limited in its scope.”

He used a familiar example.

“From what I’ve seen at Protective Stadium, it’s a full experience,” Kennedy said. “You want to go support the Blazers and see quality college football, which you’re doing, but you also want an experience. We’ve got to be able to create that in Bartow Arena. The powers [that] be are understanding of that and we have to figure out a way to do it.”

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email steve.irvine@1819news.com.

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