YSU extends Barnes’ contract

Women’s coach gets

new five-year deal

By Brian Dzenis


It’s been a good year for John Barnes. In 2019, he surpassed 100 victories as the Youngstown State women’s basketball coach while leading his team to the WNIT and he signed a five-year extension to stay at YSU.

The university announced the move on Thursday.

The new deal goes through the 2022-23 season with a university option for the 2023-24 season.

“It’s the support from the administration, the university as a whole, our community and boosters for athletics and women’s basketball in particular,” Barnes said. “To me, this is a great place to be. There’s some universities that don’t support women’s sports that well or nearly as well as here.”

Financial terms were not provided and Barnes declined to discuss his salary. YSU athletic director Ron Strollo said Barnes had two years left on his previous five-year contract when his latest agreement was made. Strollo said that Barnes did not ask for a raise, but wanted his assistants to be paid more, a request that the university granted.

“It’s no secret that other schools have been approaching him,” Strollo said. “We wanted the recruits that coach Barnes and his staff are talking with to know that we’re committed to him and he is committed to us.”

Strollo declined to discuss which schools had approached Barnes. In 2016, Barnes declined an offer to coach at Kent State.

Barnes is 104-87 through six seasons with the Penguins, making him the second-winningest coach in program history. He’s had the Penguins playing in a postseason tournament in four out of six years.

Last season, the Penguins went 22-10 while earning an at-large WNIT bid. Off the court, his teams have excelled in the classroom. In three of the past four years, the team has had one to the top 10 grade-point averages in the nation. Last year’s team posted a 3.66 GPA and had seven of its 13 players earn a 4.0 GPA.

“Ultimately, that’s why players go to college, to get an education whether they’re playing sports or not. They’re trying to get a great education and a great degree so they can get a great job and be a great addition to society,” Barnes said. “The fact that our players are continually in the top 25 in the country in GPA means a lot to the university and our staff.

“That’s a big reason why I’ve chosen to extend my contract so far out.”

In addition to hitting the recruiting trail and camp circuit, Barnes has been working with his team on campus this summer. NCAA rules allow him to hold practices twice a week and have strength and conditioning sessions four times a week. The players are also attending classes, Barnes said.

“We’re working hard to try and continue to raise the level of the program every year. We were darn close to the championship game in the [Horizon League Tournament] this year. We had three games left in the regular season and if we won those three, we’d have a regular-season championship. We won one of three,” Barnes said. “We’ve been getting closer and closer and eventually, we’re going to get over the hump and win one. That’s our whole goal.”