Finishing third in a rugged Big 12 conference and landing Coach of the Year honors has taken Texas Longhorns head basketball coach Rick Barnes off the hot seat, athletic director Steve Patterson told the Austin American-Statesman on Monday.
"We don't plan on making any changes," Patterson said. "He's the conference Coach of the Year. He had something like the second-best home record ever (at 16-2). I think everybody feels like we made a great turnaround this year.
Barnes had been widely seem as in danger of losing his job after the team failed to make the NCAA Tournament last season and the top four scorers on the team bailed on the program, including the transfers of Sheldon McClellan and Julien Lewis, and the declaration for the NBA Draft by Myck Kabongo, who went undrafted.
Now, the program is once again headed in a positive direction with an influx of new players who have bought into Barnes' tough-love approach and the improvement of returning players like Cam Ridley and Demarcus Holland, Patterson believes:
All year long, Rick's team has played hard. They've won ball games. They've done well academically and been good off the floor. Everybody feels good where we're headed."
As for a contract extension, that will probably have to wait for the offseason, as Patterson said that there are not currently any plans to discuss Barnes' deal, which expires following the 2017 season.
It may take a strong run in the conference tournament and a good showing in the NCAA Tournament to earn more job security for Barnes, who is in his 16th season as the head coach at Texas.
Or Patterson may even choose to wait until after next season to make sure that the positive momentum continues after the team faltered down the stretch on the road, losing the last five games beyond the friendly confines of the Erwin Center, the type of late-season cratering that has been all too common in recent seasons under Barnes.
In any case, the obvious change in culture was clearly enough reason to bring back Barnes, who has had more success at Texas than any other basketball coach in the program's history.