KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Just two days after leaving Texas, Rick Barnes has landed at Tennessee.
Tennessee announced the hiring Tuesday, calling Barnes an “elite basketball coach in every respect.” The agreement is for six years at $2.25 million annually. The school scheduled an afternoon news conference.
Barnes succeeds Donnie Tyndall, who was fired Friday after one season amid an NCAA investigation of his two years at Southern Mississippi.
Barnes went 402-180 in 17 seasons at Texas and reached the NCAA Tournament in 16 of his 17 seasons, including a Final Four appearance in 2003. Texas announced his departure Sunday, saying it was a mutual decision. Barnes said at his farewell news conference he was given the choice of firing his staff or being fired himself.
“Rick brings an extremely impressive track record of excellence, as well as much-needed stability, to our men’s basketball program,” Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said in a statement. “This is an exciting day for our Tennessee family.”
The 60-year-old Barnes is 604-314 in 28 seasons overall with stops at George Mason, Providence and Clemson. He has reached the NCAA Tournament in 19 of his last 20 seasons.
Hart said he fired Tyndall for cause after determining the NCAA would likely find the coach committed major violations while at Southern Mississippi from 2012-14. Tyndall went 16-16 in his lone season at Tennessee.
Although Barnes’ only Southeastern Conference experience came during a brief stint as an Alabama assistant in 1985-86, Barnes has some familiarity with the area. He grew up in Hickory, North Carolina, about 200 miles east of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus.
Barnes takes over a Tennessee program that has gone at least as far as the NCAA regional semifinals four of the last nine seasons despite encountering plenty of recent coaching turnover.
Bruce Pearl was fired in 2011 amid an NCAA investigation after leading Tennessee to NCAA Tournament appearances in each of his six seasons. Pearl was replaced by Cuonzo Martin, who left for California after earning one NCAA invitation and two spots in the NIT in his three seasons. Tyndall took over for Martin.
Tennessee loses all-SEC guard Josh Richardson to graduation and doesn’t return any proven point guards or post scorers.
Barnes’ 402 wins at Texas were the most in school history. Kevin Durant and T.J. Ford earned national player of the year honors while starring on Barnes’ teams.
He led Texas to the Sweet 16 five times, one Final Four and three trips to the regional finals – but hadn’t advanced the Longhorns beyond the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament since 2008.
Hiring a veteran coach from a Big 12 school represents a change of pace for Tennessee, which selected head coaches from the mid-major ranks for its last four hires: Buzz Peterson (Tulsa), Pearl (Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Martin (Missouri State) and Tyndall (Southern Mississippi).
Tennessee becomes the second SEC school this month to hire a veteran coach with Final Four experience. Mississippi State announced last week it was replacing the fired Rick Ray with 57-year-old Ben Howland, who made three consecutive Final Four appearances with UCLA from 2006-08.