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Update: UCLA “Waiting on Barnes’ Decision” After New UT Offer

Photo credit: Anne Newman/RTI

Another couple hours have passed, which means there’s another update on the ongoing saga between Tennessee, Rick Barnes, and UCLA.

According to Seth Davis of The Athletic and CBS Sports, UCLA thought they had a deal wrapped up with Tennessee head basketball coach Rick Barnes to become their next men’s basketball coach. But Tennessee countered their offer with more money, and now UCLA is “waiting on his decision.” If it falls through with Barnes, UCLA is reportedly going to pursue Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin again.

UCLA fired head coach Steve Alford on December 31st in the middle of his sixth season with the Bruins after a 7-6 start to the season. After Alford led UClA to a 31-win season and a Sweet Sixteen appearance in the 2016-17 season, the Bruins’ play declined over the next couple seasons, culminating in his firing mid-season this year.

Reports first circulated late Sunday night that Barnes had emerged as a “serious” candidate for UCLA’s opening, and more and more info has come out in the nearly 24 hours since that initial report.

Barnes reportedly met with Tennessee Athletics Director Phillip Fulmer on Sunday night and again on Monday, and UT countered the reported five-year, $5 million annual offer that UCLA extended to Barnes. According to reports, Tennessee offered their own five-year deal that included a “generous” salary.

The Bruins have swung and missed on several candidates so far since firing Alford, most notably Kentucky’s John Calipari and TCU’s Jamie Dixon. UCLA reportedly balked at paying Dixon’s $8 million buyout at TCU, but they reportedly would have “no problem” paying Barnes’ $5 million buyout at Tennessee. That buyout, though, has reportedly become an issue as well.

Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports said that “it’s legit” that Barnes is weighing an offer from UCLA, going into details about finances on UCLA’s side.

We will update as more information becomes available.

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