Jim Barnes is in his second season of the head coach of the Green Wave volleyball program. He was named the ninth head coach in school history on Dec. 21, 2015.
In his first season on the Uptown campus in 2016, Tulane was the most improved team in the country starting the season with an RPI of 247 and finishing at 90. The Green Wave finished fifth in the American Athletic Conference, an improvement over 11th-place finishes in both 2014 and 2015. Tulane’s 18 wins were more than the previous two seasons combined. Off the court, Barnes’ squad achieved a perfect score in the NCAA Academic Progress Rate and was recognized for ranking in the top 10 percent among all Division I volleyball programs.
Barnes brought to Tulane a wealth of experience, as the Lake Charles, Louisiana, native has two decades of head coaching experience at the Division I level with stops at Lamar (1996-01), Wyoming (2002-03) and Baylor (2004-14). Additionally, Barnes was an assistant coach at his alma mater, McNeese State, for the six years prior to being named the head coach at Lamar.
“We are very happy to welcome Jim Barnes to the Tulane family,” Dannen said. “He has an established track record of achieving competitively what we as a program aspire to right now. Jim is a Louisiana native and is well connected and highly respective by his peers in the collegiate coaching community. Most importantly, he is a great person, a great family man and will be a tremendous asset to Tulane Athletics and to Tulane University as a whole.”
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be a member of the Tulane family,” stated Barnes. “I feel like we are coming home as a family. We’ve been outside the state for 20 years. To be able to come home and represent the community and state is a true privilege. We are excited about the opportunity of turning this program into the jewel of the state. We want to be a consistent conference champion, and we want to bring a lot of wins and happiness to our fans.”
“I would like to thank Barbara Burke who started the conversation with me about this position. Then, meeting with Troy Dannen really sealed the deal. Tulane has hired a Director of Athletics who is the real deal. Those two and Brandon MacNeill have done a lot of leg work here. To see people who are enthusiastic and passionate about being here is tremendous. I’ve seen that before, and I can see that again here at Tulane. This place is a sleeping giant. It starts with President Fitts and goes down to the Director of Athletics and all of the people working here. There is an attitude to be great. I could not be any more excited about this opportunity,” added Barnes.
Barnes owns an overall record of 362-282 (.562) as a head coach, and he has produced some of the finest seasons in the histories of the Lamar, Wyoming and Baylor programs.
Barnes went 181-170 in 11 seasons at Baylor, posting two 20-win seasons and two NCAA Tournament appearances. Barnes took over the Bears program on Dec. 3, 2003, and quickly brought them back to national prominence. In just his third year in Waco, the Bears went 18-15, producing the program’s first winning season since 2001 while the team ranked as high as 30th, nationally.
Just three years later, Barnes’ Bears reached the NCAA “Sweet 16” of the NCAA Tournament in addition to producing the first All-Americans in program history. The team finished 24-10 overall and tied for fourth in the Big 12 Conference with a record of 11-9. The Bears defeated a strong Georgia Tech team in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before upsetting No. 9 UCLA in the second round, the highest-ranked opponent Baylor has ever defeated. The Bears also dispatched No. 11 Iowa State during the regular season.
Individually, setter Taylor Barnes and middle blocker Anna Breyfogle became Barnes’ and Baylor’s first All-Americans in 2009. Breyfogle also earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors that season, leading the league in blocking.
After posting another winning season in 2010 at 16-15 overall, Barnes’ and the Bears returned to the NCAA Tournament in 2011 for just the fourth time in program history.
The 2012 Baylor squad posted a 20-win campaign with a 20-12 finish overall. The team narrowly missed an NCAA Tournament appearance after winning seven of their last 12 Big 12 matches. Three Bears earned All-Big 12 honors.
Injuries hindered Barnes’ final two seasons at Baylor, as the team went 12-20 and 14-17, respectively.
Prior to coaching at Baylor, Barnes spent two seasons at Wyoming, where he compiled a 35-27 overall record. Prior to his arrival, the Cowgirls finished 9-15, but Barnes quickly turned the program around as they went 20-11 in his first year for the program’s first 20-win campaign in 11 years. The Cowgirls won in-season tournament titles at host schools Auburn, Central Michigan, Cornell and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
During his second year in Laramie, Wyoming, the Cowgirls started 13-6 before being beset by injuries to finish the season 15-16.
Before heading up north, Barnes was the head coach at Lamar from 1996-2001, going 128-71 overall. He earned the 2001 Southland Conference Coach of the Year honors after leading his final Lady Cardinal squad, which featured four all-conference performers, to a 26-5 record and the Southland Conference regular-season title.
Barnes’ six-year tenure at Lamar saw four 20-win seasons. His first year, the team went 20-13 one year after finishing 13-22. In 1997, the Lady Cards were picked to finish sixth in the Sun Belt Conference preseason poll before going 22-15 overall and 8-1 in the league for a share of the conference title. Barnes’ squad ended Arkansas State’s nation-leading 54-match regular-season win streak during the season. Barnes picked up his first Southland Conference Coach of the Year award that season.
In 2000, Barnes guided Lamar to 24 victories – the program’s most since 1993. He led the Lady Cardinals to the finals of the Southland Conference Tournament. In the tournament semifinals, Lamar knocked off undefeated regular-season champion Texas State and ended the nation’s longest winning streak at 23 matches.
Barnes got his coaching start at his alma mater of McNeese State, where he spent six years as an assistant coach. In 1993, McNeese State posted what was then its best finish in school history at 25-7 and finished as the Southland Conference runner-up. The 1994 squad posted a 22-7 mark and earned the program its first-ever regional ranking.
On top of his coaching acumen, Barnes has put together six top 20 recruiting classes, including five in the last seven years.
Barnes earned his bachelor’s degree in health and human performance from McNeese State in 1994 and completed his master’s degree from the school in 1996.
Barnes is married to the former Tracy Pittman, and they have two daughters, Brooke Aidan and Jenna Grace.