Barnes championship

Barnes helping cut down the nets at the former Quicken Loans Arena (now Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse) following Kent State’s 2017 MAC Championship win over Akron in 2017.

Brian Barnes, director of basketball operations for Kent State men’s basketball, died on Sunday, May 2 at the age of 28.

KentWired was not able to confirm Barnes’ cause of death at the time of publication. 

Barnes has been with the Kent State basketball program for six years and was elevated to director of basketball operations from the position of special analyst in September of 2018.

Brian Barnes headshot

Brian Barnes was named director of basketball operations in 2018, and has been with the men’s basketball program for nearly six years. May 2, 2021.

"My condolences go out to Brian’s family and all those who had the opportunity to interact with him," said coach Rob Senderoff in a press release. "He was an integral part of our program over the last six years and played a vital role in the lives of so many of our players, both past and present. He will be incredibly missed.”

That official statement from Senderoff was not the only statement of support and appreciation for Barnes, as many former colleagues and athletes expressed their sadness at his death.

Matt Sligh, current associate head coach for University of Tennessee at Martin, worked with Barnes while he was an assistant coach at Kent State.

“Just hurts so much. Brian was a genuine friend with such a huge heart for his players, co-workers, family and friends. He’d do anything for you at any time. Thank you, Barnsey, for blessing myself and so many others with who you were everyday,” Sligh said on Twitter.

Former Kent State players Jaylin Walker and Kalin Bennett were just two of many players who also shared their emotions on social media.

Barnes initially served as a graduate assistant for the men’s basketball team after graduating from Central Michigan University with a degree in sports management. He was a student assistant for the men’s basketball team at CMU.

Owen MacMillan is a sports editor. Contact him at omacmill@kent.edu.

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