In a department that has been beset by several scandals and high-profile coaching changes in recent years, Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke has had at least one ongoing positive story: women’s basketball. He worked quickly to make sure the architect of that would be around for at least five more years, signing head coach Adia Barnes to an extension through the 2025-26 season.
“Not long at all,” Barnes replied when asked how long the negotiation process took. “It wasn’t some long drawn out process. It was just like a few days.”
It was not her request, either. Heeke approached her with the idea. She was all for it, but she did not care much about the details of the contract. Under her current deal, Barnes earns a base salary of $407,500 per year. The terms of the new contract have not yet been released and are pending approval by the Arizona Board of Regents.
“I believe when you do your job, everything else comes into place,” Barnes said. “In my career, I do what I love. I don’t want to ever be in a situation where I have to go work out every minute, fine detail. Because I think that when you’re wanted by people and you want to be somewhere, I think it works out and it’s effortless. And that’s how it was here. So that’s really important to me. If I have to be at a job where I said this, this, this, and we have to like go back and forth about all those little things, it’s probably not the right place for me, because I don’t feel like I’m wanted as much as I want to be.”
What the contract provides for the department is not only the positive story of the alumna who brings her alma mater to new heights, but a good deal of stability. Barnes’ name kept appearing in the press as a possibility every time a big job opened. Whether she was being considered by those programs or not, it was something that could affect recruiting.
“It’s really important because you think of right now with COVID everything has moved up,” Barnes said. “So, already 2022s are pretty heavily committed, and usually it can be pushed back another year because the visits and so forth. But now we’re in the dead period until June. So I think it’s made timelines move up, so more stability in the program is good just for the future the program. Last year I had a lot of questions about me leaving or every time some job came open, I don’t know how my name is on a lot of lists. So sometimes I wouldn’t even know I was until some recruit would ask me. I was like, ‘Oh, where’d you see that?’ And they saw it on Twitter.”
The deal also provides stability for Barnes’ family. With her husband Salvo Coppa serving as an assistant coach, her extension provides job security for both of them. It also provides a stable home base to raise their two children.
“He’s very happy,” Barnes said. “Salvo loves Arizona. He loves everything about it. It feels like home. Salvo’s very attached to things. I’m a little bit like it is my alma mater, but I’ve lived all over the world. I’ve lived in like eight countries. I’ve traveled all over the world. So he gets more attached because he’s only lived in a couple places his whole life, so he’s happy. He loves Arizona. He loves the community. He loves everything we’ve done here, so he’s really, really happy for our family. I mean our lifestyle in Arizona, the weather, the community, everything has been wonderful. So I can’t think of a better place right now.”