Monday, May 16, 2011

Tudor's Take: Texas rewards Barnes' loyalty

It became something of a political football involving a basketball coach when Texas gave Rick Barnes a $200,000 raise recently.

According to the Associated Press, a few Texas state legislators objected strongly last week when the University of Texas increased a scheduled $75,000 raise to $200,000 for the veteran Longhorns coach.

The news report put Barnes' total annual income at $2.4 million, which didn't set well with some of the lawmakers. Like most school systems, Texas is facing big budget cuts.

Texas' athletic director DeLoss Dodds said a $200,000 raise, rather than the $75,000 hike in Barnes' contract, was appropriate in view of the basketball program's improvement and the school's desire to keep him.

It also may be another reason why Barnes during the past two or three seasons has shunned approaches from schools closer to his Hickory, N.C., roots.

N.C. State, Maryland, Georgia Tech and Virginia had some degree of interest in Barnes during the past three years, but Barnes displayed no desire to leave.

In 13 seasons at Texas, Barnes hasn't failed to land an NCAA Tournament bid and has a 322-123 record at the school. But his 2010-11 team, which finished 28-8, lost its second game in the tourney to Arizona.

Texas last reached a regional semifinal in 2008, but Barnes' 2003 team got to the Final Four.

-- Caulton Tudor