Byrne’s hires to date at Arizona, Mississippi State noted for youth, staying power


Age is at time of hire


Sport Coach Date Age Note
Baseball John Cohen 6/6/2008 41 CWS runner-up 2013
Football Dan Mullen 12/10/2008 36 55-35 in seven years as head coach
Women's Golf Ginger Brown-Lemm 3/25/2010 42 Advanced to NCAA championships in 2013 and 2014


Sport Coach Date Age Note
Women's Basketball Adia Barnes 4/4/2016 39 Assistant at Washington five years
Baseball Jay Johnson 6/7/2015 38 72-42 in first two years as head coach at Nevada
Football Rich Rodriguez 11/22/2011 48 33-20 in four years at Arizona
Men's Golf Jim Anderson 6/21/2012 32 Coached Arizona to NCAA regional in 2013
Women's Golf Laura Ianello 5/26/2010 30 Three NCAA championship berths including last season
Gymnastics Tabitha Yim 5/10/2015 29 Won three of last four meets in first year
Sand Volleyball Steve Walker 1/8/2013 39 25-4 last two seasons
Swimming and Diving Eric Hansen 4/12/2011 45 Resigned after leave of absence in October 2013
Swimming and Diving Rick DeMont 2/4/2014 57 Men 16th and Women 12th in NCAAs this year
Soccer Tony Amato 12/5/2012 34 Advanced to 3rd round of NCAA tournament this season

Greg Byrne has made 10 hires in his six years with the Arizona Wildcats after his hire of Adia Barnes today to coach the with the women’s basketball program.

So far so good for the 44-year-old Arizona Wildcats athletic director, whose track record dating to his three hires at Mississippi State is 11-1 when factoring longevity without an unforeseen negative conclusion.

The only unsuccessful hire to this point is former Arizona swimming and diving coach Eric Hansen who resigned after a leave of absence less than three years following his hire in 2011.

Byrne’s 13 hires to date are marked by their overall youth and promise. The average age of the coaches Byrne has signed at Mississippi State and Arizona is only 39.3 years old. His most recent hire before Barnes, Arizona baseball coach Jay Johnson, was only 38 when he came on board last June.

Byrne is known for attracting young coaches who are on an upward trajectory in their careers. Rich Rodriguez was somewhat old by Byrne’s hiring standard at 48 but the football coach had something in common with all of the coaches who the athletic director has attracted — the hunger to succeed. Rodriguez experienced a rebirth in his career after his firing by Michigan in 2010 after only three seasons there.

Some other facts with Byrne’s hires and how it relates to the women’s basketball coaching search:

— Seven of the 12 coaches were head coaches before their hire, including Arizona’s Johnson, Rodriguez, Hansen, sand volleyball coach Steve Walker and soccer coach Tony Amato. … Men’s golf coach Jim Anderson, women’s golf coach Laura Ianello, gymnastics coach Tabitha Yim and swimming and diving coach Rick DeMont were assistants before their promotion or hire by Byrne.

— Byrne is not against hiring alums such as Barnes-Coppa with the women’s hoops team, although he does not base the affiliation as a deciding factor. Ianello and DeMont were former Arizona athletes in their respective sports. John Cohen played at Mississippi State before Byrne brought him back as the head baseball coach there in 2009. Hansen did not swim with the Wildcats (he competed at Iowa State) but he earned his master’s degree at Arizona.

— Only Rodriguez was fired from his previous job before Byrne made the hire. After three seasons as an Arizona assistant, Walker coached the Cal Davis women’s volleyball team in 2006 and 2007 before resigning with an 8-48 record. He returned to Arizona to be part of David Rubio’s staff before the sand volleyball program was initiated in 2013. Rodriguez is 33-20 in his four years at Arizona while Walker is 23-2 in his last two seasons. Byrne’s belief in their head coaching role has paid off to this point.

— Byrne has yet to be forced to fire a coach he hired, nor has a coach he hired at Mississippi State been dismissed. All but Hansen are still active coaches at Mississippi State and Arizona. None of have left either university for another job.

— Coaches still at Arizona who were hired before Byrne’s arrival on May 3, 2010, include men’s basketball coach Sean Miller, cross country and track and field coaches Fred Harvey and James Li, softball coach Mike Candrea, men’s tennis coach Tad Berkowitz, women’s tennis coach Vicky Maes, and Rubio with the volleyball program.

Adia Barnes-Coppa (far right) with her son xxxx and husband xxxxx (Barnes-Coppa family photo)

Adia Barnes-Coppa (far right) with her son Matteo and husband Giulio Coppa celebrating Washington’s advancement to the Final Four last week. (Barnes-Coppa family photo) publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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