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Tennessee AD Phillip Fulmer releases statement on Rick Barnes’ decision to stay

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Hear from the man himself.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Phillip Fulmer and Tennessee avoided total disaster late on Monday night, persuading Rick Barnes to remain in Knoxville. Barnes, the 2018-19 Naismith Coach of the Year, became the main target of the UCLA coaching search.

UCLA offered Barnes a reported five million dollars per year, but Tennessee came in with a new deal which was apparently enough to sway him.

It was a massive victory for Phillip Fulmer, who faced the very real possibility of seeing his most stable program collapse right before his eyes. Here’s what he had to say after Barnes made his final decision to stay.

“The last few days have been interesting to say the least. One of the nation’s most tradition-rich college basketball programs identified what we here at Tennessee already knew—that Rick Barnes is one the game’s elite coaches and a program-changer. His incredible work here at Tennessee over the past four years illustrates that. Additionally, the impact that he and his wife, Candy, have made throughout this community has been immensely inspiring as well.

“The University of Tennessee and East Tennessee as a whole have developed an enhanced love and appreciation for our men’s basketball program and its culture under Rick’s leadership, and I’m thrilled that he will remain a part of our Tennessee Athletics family.

“I’m grateful to Rick and Candy, and I’m also grateful to our university leadership, which stepped up to show Rick how much he is valued and appreciated. Our commitment to basketball has never been stronger, and we’re all excited for the future as we move forward.”