Rick Barnes is in Knoxville for the long haul after opting to stay at Tennessee over an offer to coach at UCLA. The Bruins came after Barnes with an offer of five million per year, but couldn’t ever get past his reported five million dollar buyout.
Barnes confirmed that the buyout was the snag that kept him in Knoxville today.
“When you get down to a situation like this, it has to make sense from a financial standpoint,” Barnes said in a press conference on Tuesday. “The bottomline is, we (Barnes and UCLA) just really couldn’t work it out with the buyout.”
What if the buyout wasn’t in the way? “I think I would have been the coach at UCLA,” Barnes admitted.
That’s some rare honestly from a coach — something you almost never see in a situation like this. Barnes went on to explain the situation further.
“After I had met with UCLA, I point blank said I can’t do anything else with you until I’ve talked to Tennessee,” Barnes said. “I said I’m not going to walk out of here and not meet with my team. I’m not going to walk out of here and not meet with people who have been really good to me. I can’t just say, send the plan tomorrow and we’re leaving. I’m going to make sure that this is done the right way.”
From there, Barnes confirmed that he spoke with athletics director Phillip Fulmer on Saturday, then met face to face on Sunday. Ultimately, Fulmer offered Barnes a new deal to stick around. According to Barnes, that deal would have been turned down if UCLA could have paid his buyout.
Through the process, some rumors about Barnes feeling under-appreciated emerged. Rumors spread on some potential tension between he and Fulmer. Today, Barnes did all he could to squash that.
“I know there’s been rumors out there,” Barnes said. “But I tell you, Coach Fulmer has taught me a lot. For anybody to think that he hasn’t supported me since I’ve been here, they’re crazy.”
What do you make of Barnes’ honesty?