Rick Barnes Out at Texas After 17 Years


It’s been almost a year since the rumors began. On the heels of his fourth Big 12 Coach of the Year award, Rick Barnes, the winningest coach in Texas history, was in the middle of a six-year NCAA Tournament drought. The Longhorns hadn’t advanced to the tournament’s second weekend since the 2007-08 season. In 2013, Texas missed the tournament completely with a 16-18 regular season record. On March 19 of this year, as Texas fell to Butler on the tournament’s first day, the rumblings became deafening.

On Sunday it became official. Flanked by a few former players, Barnes entered UT’s Bellmont Hall and confirmed what several sources had suspected all weekend: This press conference at UT would be his last. According to Kirk Bohls and Brian Davis at the Austin American-Statesman, Barnes was told he needed to make some personnel changes on his coaching staff or “risk being fired.”

Neither Barnes nor Patterson commented on the Statesman story, though Barnes addressed the rumor at the press conference, stating that gutting his staff was not an option, even after his assistants had volunteered to step down to save his job.

“I couldn’t do that,” Barnes said. “That would have been me saying it was about me.”

Though Barnes said that he and the school mutually agreed to part ways, he revealed during the 48-minute press conference that he was told after the tournament that he would be back for his 18th year at UT.

“Some things changed,” Barnes said.

Texas Athletic Director Steve Patterson did not attend the press conference, though in a statement released by UT Athletics, Patterson thanked Barnes for lifting up the men’s basketball program during his tenure.

“The university owes Rick a great deal of gratitude and respect for all he’s done to put Texas on the basketball map. He elevated our program immensely and always did it with class,” Patterson said. “We thank Rick for his many years of service to Texas and wish him continued success in the future.”

Barnes hit a couple of milestones this year. With a convincing home win over TCU, he became just the 13th active coach to compile 600 wins, and the 60-year old former Providence and Clemson head coach intimated that he isn’t done yet.

“I will,” Barnes said, of his desire to continue his coaching career. “And I’m thankful for that.”

Rumor has it that the coaching search for Barnes’ replacement is already underway, with Texas eyeing Virginia Commonwealth University’s coach Shaka Smart as its top choice. Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall is apparently on UT’s radar as well.

Longhorns Kevin Durant and T.J. Ford, and former fellow head coach Mack Brown took to Twitter to pay tribute to Barnes, which you can read below:

Photo courtesy UT Athletics.


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