Associated Press

Mississippi State men’s basketball coach Ben Howland is out after seven seasons with the program.

A release on Thursday did not provide details about Howland’s departure, and a message left with a basketball spokesman was not immediately returned. Athletic director John Cohen thanked Howland for his devotion to the program in the release and wished him and his family “the absolute best.”

A national search for Howland’s successor is underway, though Cohen added the former coach “left our program better than he found it.”

Howland went 18-16 this season with the Bulldogs and 134-98 overall. They are coming off Wednesday night’s 60-57 first-round NIT loss to Virginia after reaching the final last spring. MSU appeared in the NIT three times the past five seasons along with making the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

“We are confident we will find a new head coach who will elevate our program and position our student-athletes to compete for championships while playing an exciting brand of basketball,” Cohen said.

Howland is 535-304 in 26 years and coached at UCLA, Pittsburgh and Northern Arizona before taking over at MSU in 2015.