Summer 2024

Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes lives his life for the Lord

Rick Barnes is a name synonymous in college basketball.

The longtime college hoops coach has coached some of the biggest names in basketball including Kevin Durant, D.J. Augustin, and T.J. Ford. He’s been to 2 Elite Eight appearances and has been named Big-12 Coach of the Year 4 times.

He’s won 1000 games in his college coaching career, including 12 this year for Tennessee, where he is in his 3rd season as the head coach of the Volunteers.

Rick Barnes the basketball coach is who many sports fans know. But it’s Rick Barnes the man of faith, that is most important to him.

“At one time, I think I made all the mistakes coaches can make, thinking, making it more important,” Barnes told the Knoxville News in 2016. “It’s important because it’s what we do. I think God has created everything we do. I think He created basketball. I think it’s the platform that we’re supposed to use to be teachers and mentors of young people.”

For years, Barnes has been a believer in Jesus Christ, but recently, his son Nick admitted that the family had been more about doing the church thing instead of living a Christ centered life.

“I mean, as the scripture would say, (he) lived out a new creation, a new person — just much more peace, affection,” Nick told Knoxville News. “He was a great dad. I had a wonderful childhood. But it’s just the anchor in his soul and just the perspective on life and work.”

Nick Barnes, 31, is a missionary in the Middle East, a place that often, does not take kindly to people converting to Christianity. He doesn’t disclose where he lives for his own safety, but says he has seen some amazing but sad things occur.

“The country that I live in,” he explained to the Knoxville News, “the four people that I know of that came to faith last year, one got killed, one got stabbed, one was put in prison and the other one, her husband divorced her. It’s serious business, for sure.”

Nick says that he knew his call to be a missionary was something that God wanted him to do in his mid-twenties. And now, he knows it’s something he’ll always be doing.

“I would hope and pray to die overseas,” Nick said. “Seeing someone come to faith in Christ that would have never heard the Gospel, there’s nothing else that I could want to live for.”

Rick supports his son and says he’s doing things that are aligned with the will of God.

“We just truly believe he’s in God’s will, that he’s doing exactly what God is calling him to do,” Rick said. “He loves it. He has an unbelievable passion for what he’s doing.”

Barnes says that as a head coach, the most important thing for him now when he wakes up isn’t basketball, it is spending time with God.

“The most important thing when I get out of bed in the morning is not this job, but to spend some time alone with the Lord and make sure I get my day started the right way,” Barnes said recently. “That’s been the biggest change in my coaching career. The Bible says that there is a lot called, but few are chosen. I want to be one of the chosen ones.”

“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” – Ephesians 1:4-5

Tennessee Men’s Basketball is currently 12-4 and ranked No. 21 in the AP Top 25 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Rankings. They face Missouri on the road Wednesday Night at 9 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.