Tennessee athletics announced on Tuesday that it was extending Rick Barnes through the 2025-26 season. Barnes’ previous contract was set to expire after the 2023-2024 season. This contract seemingly guarantees that the 7th year Tennessee coach will remain in Knoxville long enough to make him the 2nd longest tenured coach in basketball program history; behind only Ray Mears and tied with Emmett Lowery.
One of the first reactions to this news: This will make Rick Barnes around 71 years old when the contract is up. With that in mind, it’s probably safe to assume this is the last contract extension he will sign at Tennessee.
Parts of the fanbase will be upset at the extension. But “stability” has become an almost flirtatious word around Tennessee athletics, which is just now trying to lock up a baseball coach for the long term, and get the football program on stable ground. If Barnes wants to stay at Tennessee for 5 more years and produce decent results, you should be willing to take him up on the offer.
Yes, Barnes should do better in the NCAA tournament. Everyone accepts that. But it’s pretty much the only knock on his otherwise respectable resume at Tennessee. Even if the consistency on the court isn’t your cup of tea to this point, it’s worth noting that his recruiting results have genuinely improved over the past few classes. Tennessee finished the most recent cycle with the No. 3 class and plenty of deserved hype. Barnes has earned the chance to coach the next few seasons with some of the most talent he’s had since he started coaching at Tennessee.