YSU women’s basketball coach Barnes taking leave of absence

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes. YSU women's basketball head coach John Barnes addresses the team during a practice on July 7.

YOUNGSTOWN — The Youngstown State women’s basketball program will be without head coach John Barnes for the foreseeable future.

Barnes is taking a leave of absence to focus on “personal family matters,” per a release from YSU.

Associate head coach John Nicolais will serve as acting head coach until Barnes returns.

“We support Coach Barnes’ decision, and we will continue to focus on our student-athletes as our top priority,” athletic director Ron Strollo said in a statement Monday. “We have a great support system in place, and we feel strongly that Coach Nicolais and our six seniors can successfully lead our program both on and off the court.”

Barnes arrived at YSU ahead of the 2013-2014 season, and is headed into his 11th season with the Penguins and has compiled a record of 170-130 during that time, second most in program history. He led YSU to its first regular season Horizon League championship during the 2021-2022 season, and guided the Penguins to a 19-11 record last season.

Nicolais has been an assistant on Barnes’ staff for the entirety of Barnes’ tenure at YSU and has prior stints as an assistant coach at Drury and Glenville State.

The Penguins open the regular season on Nov. 8 against Xavier at the Beeghly Center.


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