Rod Barnes Inks New Ole Miss Deal

Basketball coach Rod Barnes is loyal to Ole Miss, but if another university had come up with a huge contract offer, he would have considered the deal. He has to think about the future of his family. No problem. Ole Miss came up with a new deal, tearing up a three year package worth about $450,000 per year he had signed just a few months ago.

Rod led Ole Miss to the SEC West Division title after the Rebels were picked to finish last. Ole Miss beat Iona and Notre dame in this year's NCAA Tournament before losing to Arizona in the Sweet 16. Ole Miss completed the season with 27 wins and 8 losses. Barnes signed a new four year contract that will keep him in Oxford through the 2004-2005 basketball season.

Athletic director John Shafer says the new package includes an increase in salary, plus additional incentives for athletic and academic success. Shafer said, "We felt it was the appropriate time to extend his contract back to the maximum four years allowed by the State of Mississippi." The 35-year-old Barnes was out of town and unavailable for comment.

During the season, Barnes signed a contract that raised his $300,000 annual salary about 50 percent. Rumors had Barnes a prime candidate to fill coaching vacancies at Tennessee and South Carolina. On Tuesday Tennessee hired Tulsa coach Buzz Peterson to fill their coaching position.

Barnes was an assistant under Rob Evans from 1993-98 and took over the Rebels head coaching reins when Evans left for Arizona State following the 1997-98 season. Barnes has guided Ole Miss to a 66-35 record and reached 60 victories faster than any Ole Miss coach.