Kennesaw State’s Abdur-Rahim leaving for South Florida job

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

Amir Abdur-Rahim’s tenure as the men’s basketball coach at Kennesaw State is over.

Abdur-Rahim has confirmed he will take over at South Florida. He will replace Brian Gregory, the former Georgia Tech coach, who was fired March 10.

“I want to thank our student-athletes, coaches, staff, Owl Nation and the Kennesaw community for a historic four years at Kennesaw State,” Abdur-Rahim said. “I want to send a special thanks to president Kathy Schwaig and athletic director Milton Overton for their support and trust in my vision for leading their men’s basketball program.

“These decisions are never easy nor made without a ton of thought and prayer,” Abdur-Rahim continued. “My family and I are so appreciative of all the friends we have made here in Kennesaw and we are excited to meet the great people that make USF and the Tampa community so special.”

Abdur-Rahim’s run at Kennesaw State ends after four years, including the remarkable just-completed season that had the Owls in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. Kennesaw State finished 26-9 this season after winning the ASUN Conference regular-season and tournament titles. No. 14-seed Kennesaw State lost to No. 3-seed Xavier 72-67 in an NCAA first-round game in Greensboro, North Carolina earlier this month. The Owls led by 13 points with 10 minutes remaining before losing.

“We thank Amir Abdur-Rahim for his leadership for our men’s basketball program and taking Kennesaw State University to new heights,” Overton said. “He was intentional in his four seasons here for developing KSU into a championship-caliber program. It culminated with not only a banner season but produced years of academic achievement and community involvement.

“Our KSU men’s basketball program brought transformative visibility to the Kennesaw State University brand this season with its appearance in the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament,” added Overton. “The future of our KSU men’s basketball program is brighter than ever, and we intend to build upon the championship program that Owl Nation expects and deserves as we move to Conference USA in 2024.

Schwaig, Kennesaw State’s president, also expressed her appreciation for Abdur-Rahim.

“Coach Amir Abdur-Rahim built a program here that has raised our national profile, energized our current and prospective students, and inspired our alumni and others to support future academic and athletic success at Kennesaw State,” Schwaig said.

Abdur-Rahim finished with a 45-74 record, which included a 1-28 mark in his first season. Kennesaw State improved to five wins and then 13 before this season’s big jump. He has also served as an assistant coach at Georgia and Texas A&M.

Abdur-Rahim shed tears, of joy he called them, following Kennesaw State’s loss to Xavier.

“With all due respect, the beginning was four years ago,” Abdur-Rahim said when asked whether the season was the start of something big for the program. “We are here today because (emotional long pause). … These are tears of joy because we made a commitment to this university. We made a commitment to these guys sitting next to me that we were going to show up every day for. When you get to a place like this – these are tears of joy – because it takes a special group of people to commit to something and stay and see that vision through. The beginning was four years ago. You better believe this is our standard. This is our expectation, and we will be back.”

The school said associate head coach Ben Fletcher will serve as interim coach while a national search to replace Abdur-Rahim begins.