His unprecedented tenure was filled with championships, the most wins in school history and an impressive list of All-American and All-SEC performers. His legacy, which began to form as an assistant at Mississippi State in 1991 under Richard Williams, also has him in the SEC record books as the ninth-winningest coach in league history.
"I have been very blessed to be a part of this university for the last 22 years, 14 as the head coach," an emotional Stansbury said at a packed Bryan Building where he announced his retirement. "I've just been blessed. But it's time for a new chapter in my life. It's time for me to be a better father. It's time for me to be a better husband. I know as coaches, and I understand that, that we are judged by wins and losses. But for me, it's the relationships."
It was a head coaching career that began on March 13, 1998, and one that ends fourth behind powerhouse programs Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee in total number of victories - 293.
During that span, Stansbury guided the Bulldogs to five Western Division crowns, an overall SEC title in 2004 and four SEC Tournament championship appearances that netted two crowns, including the magical run in 2009 that saw MSU win four games in four days. He compiled 16 tournament wins, which ties for the ninth most in SEC history.
Prior to his arrival, MSU had totaled just seven 20-win seasons. That number now stands at 17, as the Bulldogs recorded their 10th 20-plus win season this past year with Stansbury at the helm.
Mississippi State also proved to be resilient on the road in SEC play under Stansbury's tutelage, as the Bulldogs left opposing venues victorious on 40 occasions. Only Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee had more.
In all, Stansbury coached his teams to 122 SEC wins, the 14th most in SEC history, and had winning records against eight of the league foes, including his 21-8 mark against arch-rival Ole Miss.
In 2004, the Bulldogs won the overall regular-season title after posting a 14-2 ledger in SEC play, including an unblemished 8-0 mark the road.
"Rick has given much to Mississippi State University over the past 22 years, including the last 14 as our head coach," MSU athletics director Scott Stricklin said. "The achievements of men's basketball under his direction are many. He and his wife Meo have been totally invested in our basketball program, and we thank them both for what they have brought to Mississippi State University."
Stansbury, who turned 52 this past December, also enjoyed great postseason success.
Six of his teams garnered NCAA Tournament bids, while five squads participated in the NIT, including this year's team.
"Over the past 22 years, Coach Rick Stansbury has elevated our basketball program, and he and Meo have represented our university in an exemplary way," MSU president Dr. Mark E. Keenum said. "Rick's status as MSU's all-time winningest and longest-tenured basketball coach assures his abiding place in the university's history, and we will be forever grateful for our association with them. We share the respect and esteem that our fans and alumni hold for the Stansbury family and what they've accomplished here. We likewise respect Rick's heartfelt decision after three successful decades of college coaching to retire and to be able to enjoy more time with his family.
"In light of that decision, our plan is to build on the solid foundation Coach Stansbury leaves behind at MSU. We will chart a new course that will bring renewed energy and create opportunities for our basketball team to succeed at the highest level. I look forward to working with Scott Stricklin to find a passionate, enthusiastic coach to meet that challenge."
As an assistant from 1991-98, he was known as a tireless and highly successful recruiter, landing such greats as Erick Dampier, Dontae' Jones, Chuck Evans, Horatio Webster, Tyrone Washington and Darryl Wilson. It was that type of talent that played instrumental roles in the Bulldogs advancing to the program's first Sweet 16 in 1995 and of course, the 1996 Final Four.
Prior to joining the Mississippi State in 1991, the 1982 Campbellsville College graduate was an assistant at Austin Peay from 1985-90.
December 23, 1959 (Louisville, KY)
High School: Meade County (KY) High School, 1977
College: Campbellsville (KY) College, 1982
Graduate School: Cumberland (KY) College, 1984
Children: Isaac, Noah and Luke
Coaching Record: 293-166
Overall SEC Champions: 1 (2004)
Western Division Crowns: 5 (2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010)
SEC Tournament Championships : 2 (2002 and 2009)
NCAA Appearances: 6 (4-6)
NIT Appearances: 5 (6-5)
Overall SEC Ranking: 9th with 293 wins
SEC Tournament Wins: T9th with 16
SEC Wins: 14th with 122
20-Win Seasons: 10