After 17 years as head basketball coach at the University of Texas, Rick Barnes has been let go after a disappointing 2014-15 season in which the Longhorns went 20-14 and lost their first NCAA tournament game against Butler.
Athletic director Steve Patterson informed Barnes on Saturday, according to ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman.
Brian Davis and Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman confirmed the news and added a few additional details:
Texas officials have decided to release men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes, the winningest coach in school history, a source told the American-Statesman on Saturday.
The high-level source, who is familiar with the situation, said school officials reached their final decision Saturday and plan on making an announcement either Sunday or Monday.
Texas hopes to hire Barnes’ successor “within a week,” the source said. It’s not clear whether Texas Men’s Athletic Director Steve Patterson would handle the search by himself or utilize a search firm, like the school did before hiring Patterson as the AD and football coach Charlie Strong.
Texas eventually issued a release Sunday confirming the news of Barnes' departure. Following the announcement, Barnes spoke about his time at the university, telling Chris Hummer of Horns 247: "I don’t have any regrets. Truly, I love the University of Texas, I always will.”
After learning of the news, former Texas stars Kevin Durant and T.J. Ford offered their thoughts on the school's decision:
Bleacher Report's Jordan Schultz joined Team Stream Now to discuss one direction Texas could go from here:
Bleacher Report's Jason King also mentioned Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall as a possible candidate for the job.
Evan Daniels of Scout.com reported more on another candidate with interest in the position:
Even though Barnes has been with the Longhorns for nearly two full decades, his departure doesn't come as a surprise. There had been whispers his time in Austin was coming to an end. He was even asked about it after the loss to Butler, offering a predictably vague response, via Davis:
During his tenure with the program, Barnes built the Longhorns into a consistent tournament team. They played in the Big Dance 16 times but often struggled despite having many highly regarded rosters. Texas hasn't made it past the third round since 2008.
This year was particularly frustrating, as the Longhorns were ranked 10th in both preseason polls and wound up losing double-digit games for the fourth consecutive season.
Mark Titus of Grantland offered this synopsis about Texas' roster and performance from this past season:
As far as what Barnes is still owed, Mark Finger of the Houston Chronicle noted there is a buyout in the coach's contract:
Barnes is signed through 2019, but his $2.5 million-per-year contract includes a $1.75 buyout if he's fired this spring. And even though he led the Longhorns to their best stretch of basketball in the program's history during his first decade on the job, discontent among alumni and donors is becoming difficult for athletic director Steve Patterson to ignore.
Barnes has been given a long leash considering he coaches at a major school in one of the best conferences in the country, yet he has never been able to fulfill expectations with the exception of a Final Four run in 2003. His time with the program had run its course.
Moving on now gives Barnes and the Longhorns a proper fresh start. He's just 60 years old and will be very attractive to a lot of teams because of his ability to get a team in the NCAA tournament. Texas has great facilities and deep pockets to lure in many of the top coaching candidates.