Where’s Barry? The whereabouts of Barry Hinson and a few reasons why he deserved better from Saluki fans

By Tāmar Mosby, Sports Editor

There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when former Saluki basketball head coach Barry Hinson emotionally announced he was stepping down last year after Southern had a very disappointing season and an even more disappointing Arch Madness appearance.

Hinson announced his resignation immediately after Southern’s first round tournament loss to UNI and promptly left his post as head coach.

After his resignation, several rumors floated around about Hinson leaving coaching behind to move down south and become a politician.

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It has almost been a year since the charismatic coach said goodbye to SIU and if you’re anything like me, I’m sure the thought “Where the heck is he?” has crossed your mind.

I was able to track down Hinson and, much to my surprise, he had not become a politician. 

While the rumors of his political career taking off were untrue, the talk of him moving south was, as he is currently living in Oklahoma and is employed by the Oklahoma State University men’s basketball program.

The former head coach works for the Cowboys as an analyst. The job requires him to observe games and practices while taking note of adjustments that can be made on the court.

As far as his new job, Hinson said he is no longer interested in head coaching, but he is happy to be working for a new program and entering into another family environment.

“I’m not done coaching, but I am done being a head coach,” Hinson said. “There’s a time in your life where you have to transition and during this time in my life, I’m trying to be the best advisor I can be. I’m very fortunate to be able to come home and work for the school I graduated from and where my coaching career started. I can’t wait to go to work every day and I’m blessed that I have the chance to be learning around young people every day.”

Moving away after resigning forced the former head coach to leave behind the house and land he and his wife had spent seven years renovating.

Hinson said adjusting to Oklahoma was not a hard task, but leaving Southern and his home behind was.

“The adjustment of living in Oklahoma has been fairly easy because I grew up here,” Hinson said. “Both of my daughters live here and its put me where I can be closer to my grandsons. The only adjustment that has been hard is not being able to see the people of Southern Illinois and the players that I recruited and coached. My wife and I really miss the people.”

During his time as Saluki head coach, Hinson compiled a 116-111 record with the team’s best performance being in 2018 when they reached the Arch Madness semi-final.

Currently, four of Hinson’s former players are still on the roster at SIU; these include senior guards Eric McGill and Aaron Cook, junior forward Brendon Gooch and redshirt freshman forward Sekou Dembele.

Hinson said he has struggled with being unable to contact his former players due to present circumstances.

“There’s an unwritten rule in coaching that you aren’t allowed to have contact with your former players. If anything has hurt me, it’s that I can’t have communication with those guys I coached,” Hinson said. “From the moment they hired Coach Mullins, out of respect, I haven’t contacted any of those players. Aaron and Sekou got injured and I couldn’t reach out to them. Eric had a really good game the other night and I couldn’t reach out to tell him that. That’s been the really hard part.”

As far as what the future holds, Hinson cannot see himself coming back to SIU to work, but is determined to return occasionally and visit the place that he says became his second home.

“I won’t come back to Southern Illinois to work, but I will, as much as time will allow, come back and visit,” Hinson said. “I left SIU with zero animosity and I have no issue: […] that was a home to my wife and I for seven years and it will be home in a lot of ways to me until the day I die.”

Despite his love for the people of southern Illinois, Hinson left SIU with a less-than-respectful send off. 

Several fans celebrated his resignation and bashed him online, while others went so far as to hold up signs and wait after his final game to “boo” him off of the floor after his radio interview.

This behavior was crass and unnecessary. While SIU did not have immense amounts of success under the Hinson regime, this was no excuse for Saluki fans to treat him the way they did.

I’ve had the opportunity to see the way Coach Hinson conducts himself off of the basketball court and he is warm, kind and very respectful. 

He took time to remember reporters’ names at press conferences and was always friendly and sociable outside of these areas as well.

Many times, fans tend to forget that coaches and players are people too. They make mistakes. They are imperfect and, more importantly, they have feelings. 

To be frank, Barry Hinson deserved better from SIU fans. What happens on the court should stay there and the success of a team, or lack thereof, does not give any fan the right to behave indecently toward coaches or players.

Sports editor Tamar Mosby can be reached at t[email protected] or on Twitter at @mosbytamar.

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