Tennessee basketball head coach Rick Barnes has been named the winner of the 2019 Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year by the Atlanta Tipoff Club on Sunday.
Barnes is the first men's coach in Tennessee program history to win the award. Former Lady Vols head coach Pat Summitt won the award five times.
“Rick Barnes has built an incredible program at Tennessee, and his coaching performance this season was worthy of the top award in college basketball,” Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club, said. “We are honored to recognize Rick as the newest member of the Naismith Awards family.”
Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard, Virginia head coach Tony Bennett and Houston’s Kelvin Sampson were competing with Barnes for the honor. Beard’s Red Raiders and Bennett’s Cavaliers will meet on Monday in the national championship game.
Barnes is just the fifth coach from the Southeastern Conference to win the award.
“To say the least, I’m honored,” Barnes said. “I’m humbled really. When you’re able to receive an award like the Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year, you know it goes to your players and your assistant coaches.”
The Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy chose Barnes as the winner of the award. The academy is comprised of leading journalists from across the United States, current and former head coaches and former award winners and conference commissioners.
Fans contributed to five percent of the total vote.
“Rick Barnes and his fellow finalists have led their teams to great seasons, and each of them has impacted the sport of basketball through their coaching and strong leadership,” Stacy Gardella, vice president of brand marketing at WernerCo, said. “We are excited to honor Rick as the Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year for his dedication to his team and college basketball.”
Tennessee went on a 19-game winning streak and Barnes led the Vols into the top 10 of the Associated Press Top 25 for the entirety of the regular season. For four weeks, Tennessee was ranked No. 1 in the standings.
Barnes became one of six coaches to ever lead multiple schools to the top spot in the AP poll. The Vols were a No. 2 seed in the South Region of the NCAA Tournament before eventually losing to Purdue in the Sweet 16.
During the offseason, Barnes will be tasked with replacing former associate head coach Rob Lanier, who took over as Georgia State’s head coach on Friday.