Miami of Florida athletic director Paul Dee, seeking a replacement for recently departed head coach Leonard Hamilton, has asked for permission to interview the man who has completely rejuvenated the Golden Flashes' program in just four short seasons.
Kennedy gave his consent, albeit reluctantly, on Monday.
"I've always said that if an opportunity that Gary really wants to explore presents itself, I'm not going to hold him back," said Kennedy. "But we're close to agreeing on a six-year extension to Gary's contract, and I hope Miami doesn't interfere with that. Paul's just doing his job, but he's aware of where we are in our negotiations as well."
Waters, who has compiled a 68-50 overall mark and led Kent State into postseason play the past two seasons, just signed a five-year extension in April of 1999 after his squad captured the Mid-American Conference Tournament title and earned its first-ever NCAA Tournament berth. He's currently signed through the 2003-04 campaign.
"We think very highly of Gary, and we believe this contract extension is a tremendous expression of our support," said Kennedy. "Gary and I enjoy working together, and we have an excellent relationship which we hope will continue for a long time. We've already agreed in principal (to the extension), and I'm hoping it's just a matter of days until it's official. That's my plan."
Waters didn't return calls to his office on Tuesday.
Dee is reportedly considering as many as six candidates to replace Hamilton, who left Miami of Florida to accept the position as head coach of the NBA's Washington Wizards after leading the Hurricanes to a pair of NCAA Tournament victories last March. He has already conducted four interviews and actually offered the job to Boston Celtics coach Rick Pitino, who rejected a reported one-year, $1.2 million offer on Tuesday.
Dee has met with Hall of Famer Rick Barry, Miami's all-time leading scorer, along with Creighton head coach Dana Altman and South Florida boss Seth Greenberg. Altman has led the Bluejays into the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons, while Greenberg compiled a 17-12 record in his fourth season with the Bulls last winter.
Kennedy isn't sure how serious Dee is about Waters, or vice versa.
"Paul said he's narrowed his list to four, but I don't know where Gary is in the mix," said Kennedy. "I understand he's looking at some high profile guys. But I'm not sure how much interest there is on Gary's part, either. It's not like he was jumping up and down and thanking me when I told him I'd given them permission to talk (with Waters). He said he wanted to keep moving forward with our contract discussions."
The Hurricanes expect to name a head coach by the end of next week.