UCLA eyeing Tennessee's Rick Barnes as next basketball coach

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But, he ultimately chose to stay at Tennessee after it offered him a new deal, according to a report from ESPN, which cites unidentified sources.

Tennessee Volunteers head coach Rick Barnes reacts during the first half in the semifinals of the south regional against the Purdue Boilermakers of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at KFC Yum Center.

Fulmer said he was grateful to both Barnes and his wife, as well as the "university leadership, which stepped up to show Rick how much he is valued and appreciated".

Tennessee has made an offer to keep Coach Barnes.

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Barnes has produced an 88-50 record in four seasons with the Volunteers.

"The last few days have been interesting to say the least".

Other reported coaching candidates of interest to UCLA include Mick Cronin of Cincinnati, Randy Bennett of Saint Mary's, and former Bruins point guard Earl Watson, who was sacked as head coach of the Phoenix Suns three games into the 2017-18 season. "One of the nation's most tradition-rich college basketball programs identified what we here at Tennessee already knew-that Rick Barnes is one of the game's elite coaches and a program-changer". Still, Barnes proved he can win at Tennessee and he's playing in a better league in the SEC than what the Pac-12 provides.

Barnes has also coached at George Mason, Providence, Clemson and Texas over his 32-year career.

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The LA Times' Ben Bolch reported that Barnes has interviewed for the UCLA job and is "considered the frontrunner".

The same source told ESPN that Barnes "loves living in East Tennessee and loves the people in Tennessee".

The school reportedly pursued TCU's Jamie Dixon until it decided it wasn't inclined to pay his $8 million buyout, and while it wasn't clear how vigorously UCLA has been courting Cincinnati's Mick Cronin, Athletic Director Dan Guerrero has taken flak for seeming to bounce from one candidate to another.

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