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Texas lawmakers criticize raise for Rick Barnes
AUSTIN, TEXAS (AP) - Several Texas senators on Thursday criticized the recent $200,000 raise for Texas basketball coach Rick Barnes, calling it “nuts” and “tone deaf” during a state budget crisis that threatens deep cuts to higher education.
The state is facing a budget shortfall that some estimates put as high as $27 billion. Current spending proposals would cut money for universities and tuition programs for poor students.
Barnes‘ raise was approved by university regents on Wednesday.
But Democrats with connections to Texas also chimed in.
“It is bad timing,” said higher education committee chairwoman Sen. Judith Zaffirini, a Texas graduate. “They didn’t ask for my advice.”
The Texas athletic budget is separate from the academic budget and Barnes‘ raise does not include tax money. Texas officials note that the university’s new $300 million contract with ESPN will send millions of dollars toward academics.
Barnes was owed a $75,000 bump under his current contract. Another $125,000 was added to boost his annual salary to $2.4 million, keeping him among the highest-paid coaches in the country, Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds said.
In 13 seasons, Barnes has won at least a share of the Big 12 title three times and taken his teams to the NCAA tournament every year. Texas has failed to advance past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament four of the last five seasons.
By David Keene
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