Update: The University of Tennessee has officially hired Rick Barnes as its new head coach, the school announced Tuesday morning. A press conference is set for later this afternoon in Knoxville, Tennessee.
"Rick Barnes is an elite basketball coach in every respect," Tennessee athletics director Dave Hart said in a statement. "Rick brings an extremely impressive track record of excellence, as well as much-needed stability, to our men's basketball program. This is an exciting day for our Tennessee family."
Barnes' new contract with Tennessee is for six years, at $2.25 million per year with incentives, according to multiple reports. In addition, Barnes will get his $1.75 million buyout from Texas.
His new contract is similar to his $2.55 million per year base salary he received at Texas this past year. The hiring comes just two days after Texas let go of Barnes.
Original story: ESPN reported Monday afternoon that Barnes and Tennessee were close to a deal that would send the former Texas head coach to the Volunteers. In his farewell press conference Sunday, Barnes hinted to the fact he would land another coaching job soon when asked about his future.
“Will I coach again? Yeah, quicker than you’d probably think,” Barnes said.
Barnes and Texas “mutually agreed” to part ways Sunday morning, according to the official announcement. But it wasn’t as mutual as the report suggests. After failing to live up to expectations in the last couple of years, which includes losing to Butler in the first round this year and missing the tournament entirely in 2012-2013, reports leaked Thursday that Texas men's athletic director Steve Patterson told Barnes to make changes to his staff or risk being fired.
His staff offered to leave, but Barnes wouldn’t let them.
"I couldn't do that," Barnes said. "That would be me saying this is about me. I've been carried by a lot of people here. We're in this together."
Barnes would be the third coach in three years for the Volunteers, who saw Sweet 16 success just two years ago under the guidance of Cuonzo Martin before he bolted for Cal this summer. Donnie Tyndall of Southern Mississippi replaced him.
However, Tyndall's time at Tennessee was short-lived as he was fired Friday after just one season. His time was doomed before he started when Southern Mississippi released a statement in November that it was under investigation by the NCAA. Later in January, it said it had inflicted a self-imposed postseason ban. All this comes after Tyndall headed Morehead State when they went on probation five years ago for booster related activity.
"Knowing what I know now, is that a mistake?" Tennessee athletics director Dave Hart told the AP on Friday. "Probably. ... But, you know, there are a lot of coaches out there that have a transgression in their history somewhere that had an opportunity to do better. Obviously, if we'd known [then] what we know now, we would have moved in another direction."
Tyndall finished 16-16 in his lone year with a chance of future punishment “highly likely,” according to Hart.
Tennessee loses its top scorer from last season but will return juniors Kevin Punter and Armani Moore, who finished averaging double-digit points.
Barnes’ wife is also an alumnus of Tennessee.