Rick Barnes Era at Texas is Over

A high-level source confirmed to HornsDigest.com that Steve Patterson has told Rick Barnes his 17-year tenure as basketball coach at Texas is over.

Sources said Barnes, 60, was fired because he refused to make sweeping staff changes demanded by Patterson. Barnes will get a $1.75 million buyout. Patterson told ESPN's Jeff Goodman late Saturday afternoon that he was in Iowa with the Texas swim team and that his talks with Barnes were still ongoing.

But multiple sources confirmed to HD that Patterson met with Barnes in Austin - informed Barnes of his firing - then the Texas AD flew to Iowa, where the Longhorns were expected to clinch the NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving national championship Saturday night.

I'm told those under consideration for the Texas job include Wichita State's Gregg Marshall, VCU's Shaka Smart and Dayton's Archie Miller.

Patterson, a former president and GM of the Portland Trail Blazers, could also consider some coaches with NBA ties. When AD at Arizona State, Patterson helped bring in former NBA coach Eric Musselman and former NBA assistant coach Larry Greer as ASU assistants to then-coach Herb Sendek.

If Patterson zeroes in on Marshall, the Wichita State coach has a $400,000 buyout that drops to $300,000 on April 15, according to an open records request made by HornsDigest.

The next basketball coach at Texas comes to a program set to get a new arena and practice facility in the next five years. And they come to a program already loaded with veteran talent - thanks to Barnes and his assistants Rob Lanier, Russ Springmann and Chris Ogden - even with 7-foot freshman Myles Turner and sophomore PG Isaiah Taylor contemplating the NBA Draft.

Barnes, one of 13 active coaches with 600 victories, leaves as the all-time winningest coach in Texas basketball history.

At Texas, he went 402-180 and went to 16 NCAA Tournaments in 17 years.

Before Barnes arrived for the 1998-99 season, the Longhorns had gone to 16 NCAA Tournaments ever - in the previous 93 years of the program.

Barnes has won more games while at Texas than the previous three coaches won in Austin combined.

Under Barnes, Texas’ resume includes three regular-season Big 12 titles (two shared), a Final Four (2003), two Elite Eights (2006, 2008) and two Sweet 16s (2002, 2004). His tenure has also included a long list of NBA stars headlined by T.J. Ford, Kevin Durant, Lamarcus Aldridge, D.J. Augustin and P.J. Tucker.

But if ever there was a season not to fall below expectations in Austin, it was this one.

Not after athletic director Steve Patterson raised ticket prices by 4 percent in anticipation of a big year. And not in the year Patterson is going to have to select a site for a new basketball arena he has priced at $450 million.

A source close to the situation told HornsDigest.com Patterson has to determine the location of UT’s new basketball arena in the next 12 months and wants to have $70 million raised in that time frame for what is expected to be the beginning of construction of a new arena within three years.

Sources indicated to HD that Patterson was concerned the fan base would not be in a giving mood for a new basketball arena if Barnes remained the coach.

Some top donors to UT athletics have told HornsDigest.com the reluctance of UT faithful to give has been the revenue-over-everything approach of Patterson.

“The guy clearly does not value developing or maintaining relationships,” one top donor said of Patterson.

But Patterson wasn’t going to blame himself if people weren’t reaching into their pockets to help pay for new facilities.

The blame will fall squarely on a guy like Barnes in a year like this. Even though no hoops coach has won bigger at UT.

The Horns opened the season No. 10 and ended up having to play their way back onto the NCAA tourney bubble with a late, three-game run vs Baylor, K-State and Texas Tech - followed by a crushing collapse against Iowa State.

In many ways, the Longhorns’ 56-48 loss to Butler in the NCAA Tournament and a 69-67 loss on a last-second shot in the Big 12 Tournament by ISU’s Monte Morris in which UT squandered a 10-point lead with 3:56 to play, symbolized UT’s season and the program the last 6-plus years.

The last six years, there’s been future NBA talent in the program – Dexter Pittman, Damion James, Avery Bradley, Jordan Hamilton, Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson. None of those players – with the exception of Pittman and James in 2008 - ever got out of the first weekend of NCAA tourney.


Texas basketball had never reached No. 1.

But Barnes took it there with a 17-0 start in the 2009-10 season, including wins over Top 10 teams North Carolina and Michigan State.

It was a loaded Texas team that included James, Pittman, Bradley, Hamilton and a solid mixture of veterans like Gary Johnson and youth, such as freshman PG J’Covan Brown.

But Barnes became so preoccupied with Hamilton and Brown not adhering to his defense-first principles that he angrily coached the life out of the team. The season slowly crumbled, finishing 7-10 and flaming out in the first round of the NCAA tourney.

When I said to Bradley late in that season, “It seems like everyone is uptight.” He said, “That’s because everyone is uptight.”

Unlike Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge, who have made a point to get back to Texas to be around the program when they can, Bradley made a clean break from Barnes and UT after that one season.


Five players with eligibility made a clean break from Barnes and Texas after the 2012-13 season, Barnes’ only losing season at UT (16-18), punctuated with a first-round loss to Houston in the pay-your-own-way CBI tournament.

Point guard Myck Kabongo, who was suspended 23 games by the NCAA that season for lying about receiving an improper benefit, left early for the NBA and went undrafted.

Ioannis Papapetrou left early to play professionally in Greece. And three players transferred – Julien Lewis (Fresno State), Sheldon McClellan (Miami, Fla) and Jaylen Bond (Temple).

Things looked bleak for Barnes at that point. The rumblings in the athletic department and among top donors was that Barnes was coaching for his job last season.

With low expectations, Texas landed point guard Isaiah Taylor, who emerged as a budding star in the Big 12 as a freshman last season and meshed well with veterans. UT tied for third in the Big 12 with an 11-7 record. Barnes was voted Big 12 coach of the year by his conference peers. And the Longhorns beat Arizona State in the NCAA tourney before losing to Michigan in the round of 32.

So with the Longhorns returning 100 percent of their scoring while adding 5-star, freshman 7-footer Myles Turner, expectations were high coming into this season.

But after an 11-2 start that included Taylor missing 10 games with a broken left wrist, the team struggled to reintegrate Taylor back into the lineup, according to Barnes.

“Everyone had to go back to their roles before Isaiah’s injury, and some guys struggled with that,” Barnes said.

Barnes also mentioned concussions suffered by G Javan Felix and F Jonathan Holmes that caused both to miss a couple games each midway through the conference season. Barnes said those missed games didn’t allow his team to get into a rhythm until “two and a half weeks ago.”

“I don’t think there’s any coincidence that we’ve played our best basketball the last two and a half, three weeks, and he (Taylor) has played his best basketball,” Barnes said.


In the end, Texas couldn't find the magic in March this season that was forecasted in November and that helped take the program to new highs in the first 10 years of the Barnes' era.

On a day like today, Texas fans should thank Rick Barnes for turning the Longhorns' program into an elite job. Barnes proved that by taking Texas to the Final Four in 2003, to the Elite Eight in 2006 and 2008 and to Sweet 16s in 2002 and 2004.

The retired jerseys of T.J. Ford and Kevin Durant hanging in the Erwin Center right now are thanks to Barnes.

When UT's new basketball arena opens in roughly five years, there should be a statue of Barnes on the main concourse with those accolades under his name - even if Barnes is coaching somewhere else (and expect Barnes' name to come up immediately in coaching searches).

Barnes, a fearless competitor, made Texas a destination job. And for most of his 17 years in Austin, he took Longhorns' fans on an incredible ride that none of those fans should soon forget.


Not a member of HornsDigest?

Get the best UT recruiting and team coverage for just $4.17 per month!

1. Select the "Annual Pass" option right here.

2. Enjoy HD’s attack-free message board community and unparalleled insider information in HD Only on Wednesday nights!


Four-star DE Justin Madubuike Highlights


Get 10% off Longhorns tickets, tickets to other sporting events as well as concerts by joining HornsDigest.com. Click here to get discounted tickets!


Get your Longhorns fan gear Right here!

Horns Digest Top Stories