The University of Arizona and head women’s basketball coach Adia Barnes have agreed to new financial terms to her previously announced contract extension through the 2025-26 season, pending approval from the Arizona Board of Regents. The new terms of the five-year contract include $5.85 million in base salary compensation over the course of the agreement, and no changes were made to the incentive structure of the contract.
“As this past season made perfectly clear, Arizona Women’s Basketball has joined the nation’s elite under Coach Barnes’ leadership and will remain there for a long time to come,” said Vice President and Director of Athletics Dave Heeke. “This new contract demonstrates our continued commitment to our women’s basketball program, and to Adia, who has revitalized our program and brought the excitement and energy to a whole new level. We are thrilled that she will be with us for years to come, and we have no doubt that the young women in her program will continue to proudly represent our university, athletics department and community.”
Barnes and the Wildcats reached the national championship game of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, falling to Stanford by just one point. Arizona’s run in San Antonio took the program to new heights that included its first-ever Elite Eight and Final Four appearances. The Cats’ 69-59 dominating victory over perennial power UConn highlighted the team’s electric run to the tournament’s final game. Arizona’s head coach continued her trailblazing ways by becoming part of the first ever Women’s Final Four to feature two African-American head coaches.
“I want to thank President Robbins, Athletics Director Dave Heeke and the senior executive staff for their commitment and support of Arizona Women’s Basketball,” Barnes said. “It means the world to me that they trust me to lead this incredible program and are invested in our success. I am honored to coach at my alma mater and represent Tucson, a city where it all began for me. This contract is a commitment to our sport, Arizona Women’s Basketball, and this University. It is my responsibility to honor that commitment with a relentless pursuit of a national championship, and I can’t wait until we pack McKale again with the best fans in the country.”
Senior Aari McDonald solidified her legacy as one of the program’s legends with her historic play throughout the NCAA Tournament en route to becoming a consensus All-American and the third overall pick of the WNBA Draft. She averaged 24.8 points per game for the entire tournament, including back-to-back games of 30 or more points in her team’s wins over Texas A&M and Indiana.
Barnes has amassed a record of 89-66 in her five seasons as the head coach of her alma mater and has already risen in the program’s record book as the third winningest coach in Arizona history. She became the youngest coach to reach the Final Four since 2014 and is the only coach in Arizona history to tally three 20-win seasons in the first five seasons as head coach.
During her tenure as head coach, Arizona has also reached new heights academically. Sam Thomas was named the 2021 Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year, becoming the first Wildcat in program history to earn the award. Thomas was also the Elite90 award recipient at the Final Four as its top academic student-athlete. Her most recent accolades continue the program’s academic success since Barnes was named head coach as at least one student-athlete has been named either to the Pac-12 All-Academic Team or the Winter Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll in each of the past five seasons.