Reports: Tennessee coach Rick Barnes a top candidate for the UCLA job

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Rick Barnes netted his second national coach of the year award on Sunday.

And later Sunday, the fourth-year Tennessee coach was reported as a "serious candidate" for the UCLA job, according to 247Sports' Evan Daniels.

The Los Angeles Times' Ben Bolch reported that Barnes has interviewed for the UCLA job and is "considered the frontrunner." Bolch later reported that he was told Barnes would "definitely accept" the UCLA job if it was officially offered.  

Barnes, who was named the Naismith coach of the year Sunday, led Tennessee to the second 31-win season in program history in 2018-19. He also won the USBWA coach of the year award after another successful season in Knoxville, where Barnes has rebuilt the Vols program.

UCLA fired coach Steve Alford on Dec. 31. Murry Bartow finished the season in an interim role.

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The 64-year-old Barnes signed a contract extension in September 2018 that carries through the 2023-24 season. The deal paid Barnes $3.25 million in 2018-19, putting him No. 14 nationally in salary and No. 2 in the SEC behind Kentucky's John Calipari, according to the USA TODAY coaches' database.

Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes is reportedly a top candidate for the open UCLA job. (Photo: Kevin Jairaj, USA TODAY Sports)

Barnes signed a six-year contract worth $13.5 million to become Tennessee's head coach in April 2015. His original deal paid him $2.25 million annually, placing him No. 35 nationally among college basketball coaches entering the 2017-18. It also was 10th out of 14 SEC coaches.

Barnes' salary will increase by $100,000 each year of the deal until it reaches $3.75 million in 2023-24. The total value of the new contract is $21 million over six years.

His current buyout is $5 million. 

Barnes previously coached at Texas for 17 seasons before coming to Tennessee. He also has been the head coach at George Mason, Providence and Clemson.

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