Tony Barbee, an assistant at Kentucky for the past seven seasons, has been named head coach at Central Michigan, the school officially announced on Friday. Barbee is an Indianapolis-native with eight seasons of head coaching experience, having led the Auburn and UTEP programs for four years each before joining John Calipari in Lexington back in 2014.
“Coach Barbee met all the criteria we had to find the right individual to re-energize our men’s basketball program and get us back to competing for championships,” AD Amy Folan said in a press release. “He is a proven championship-caliber head coach, an elite recruiter who is well-versed in the national landscape and has a strong background in providing a great student-athlete experience on and off the court. I think the responsibility that coach John Calipari gave Tony to help run the Kentucky program speaks volumes.”
Barbee is 131-127 as a head coach and was 82-52 at the mid-major level with UTEP from 2006-10. He led the Miners to a C-USA title and NCAA Tournament berth in 2010 and a CBI title the year before. Barbee has been with Calipari, whom he played for at UMass, for much of his career as an assistant coach. He was a graduate assistant on the UMass team that reached the Final Four in 1996 (later vacated) and returned to the Final Four in 2015 as a special assistant at UK.
“I’m humbled and excited to be the next head coach at Central Michigan University,” Barbee said. “The identity of our program will be built on sacrifice, accountability, respect, communication, winning and a family environment. I can’t wait to engage with both the current student-athletes and the former CMU Chippewas, get entrenched in the Mount Pleasant community and ‘Fire Up’ our great student section.”
Central Michigan parted ways with former head coach Keno Davis earlier this month after nine seasons. The Chippewas last reached the NCAA Tournament in 2003, but did reach the postseason four times under Davis (one NIT, one CBI and two CITs).
credit to Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire/Getty for the photo