Chris Beard: Ole Miss to decline if NIT comes calling

Updated:

Ole Miss will not play in the National Invitation Tournament, coach Chris Beard said Friday.

The Rebels finished the season with nine losses in their final 11 games, with Friday’s 80-71 SEC quarterfinal loss to Texas A&M sending them to a 20-12 record. Once ranked in the AP Top 25 poll, the Rebels are not projected to make the NCAA Tournament due to their late-season collapse.

“Timing is everything, and the timing is not right for our team to continue the season in any of these tournaments,” Beard told reporters Friday. “We have some guys dealing with some personal things off the court.”

Beard cited Jamarion Sharp, whose mother is “in critical care,” and said other players are “working toward graduation.”

“Timing right now just doesn’t put us in a situation where we think it’s the best thing to try and play in one of those tournaments,” Beard said. “Nothing but respect for all the tournaments, including the NIT.”

The decision comes one day after coach Penny Hardaway said there was “zero” chance Memphis would play in the NIT if offered.

Ole Miss could have been an automatic choice to make the NIT under new qualification procedures in place this year. The Power 6 conferences (ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) all will receive two automatic bids for the two teams with the highest NET rankings among those not in the NCAA Tournament.

Beard was just given a new contract at Ole Miss on Wednesday before the end of his first season on the job. He was hired last offseason after being fired by Texas amid an investigation into family violence. The charges Beard faced were eventually dropped.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed by the university, but CBS Sports reported the contract is for six years and extends through the 2029-30 season.