The head coach of this year's March Madness dark horse says too many people assume her husband leads the team

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adia barnes
Adia Barnes is head coach of the Arizona Wildcats. AP Photo/Rick Scuteri
  • Former WNBA great Adia Barnes has found unprecedented success as head coach of the Arizona Wildcats.

  • This year, she led the Wildcats to their first national championship game in program history.

  • But Barnes recently revealed that many people assume her husband is the team's head coach.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Adia Barnes has achieved unprecedented success as the head coach of the Arizona Wildcats, her alma mater.

The team shocked the college basketball world by upsetting the perennial powerhouse UConn Huskies during this year's March Madness to earn a trip to the national championship game.

But in a recent NBC interview, Barnes said many assume her husband - an assistant coach on her staff - is the one who helms the ship.

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Adia Barnes (left) and her husband, Salvo Coppa. AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

Barnes told NBC's Hoda Kotb that people often mistake Salvo Coppa - who she married in 2012 - for the team's head coach when they walk through the airport.

"It happens all the time," she said. "They'll think he's the head coach and I get kind of offended. I'm like 'No, actually, I'm the head coach!'"

Barnes has been more successful than any other head coach in the Arizona program's history - and she's just five years into her head coaching tenure. The former WNBA star led the No. 3 Wildcats to their first-ever Final Four appearance in this year's NCAA tournament.

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Adia Barnes (right) hugs her star player, Aari McDonald, during the 2021 NCAA tournament. Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout her team's exceptional March Madness run, Barnes was still breastfeeding her 5-month-old. Working moms across the country expressed admiration for the 44-year-old.

"I think about what a role model I am for my players," Barnes told Kotb. "They can see - you can be a mom, you can wear all these different hats, and you can kick ass at both of them."

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Adia Barnes holds her 5-month-old daughter during the 2021 Final Four. C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Other sports industry trailblazers see Barnes as an inspiration, too. During the NBC interview, which spotlighted San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon and also featured NFL agent Nicole Lynn, Lynn said she watched Barnes hold her young daughter on the court and told her husband: "If she can do it, I can do it."

Check out Kotb's full interview with Barnes, Lynn, and Hammon below:

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