LEXINGTON – Former UTEP and Auburn head coach Tony Barbee has joined the Kentucky men’s basketball staff as the special assistant to the head coach, John Calipari announced Friday.
He will take on an administrative role in operations formerly held by Rod Strickland, who left to become an assistant coach at the University of South Florida.
Barbee was previously the head coach at UTEP and at Auburn and has served as an assistant coach under Calipari for a total of nine seasons in his career.
“Tony has been a part of my basketball family for over 20 years,” Calipari said. “I’ve had the pleasure of watching him grow up and mature with this game since I started recruiting him when he was 16 years old. I’m thrilled with the knowledge and experience he brings to this program and our staff and am looking forward to working with him again.”
“I’m so excited to reconnect with my coach, mentor, and friend Coach Cal on his staff at Kentucky,” Barbee said. “I can’t wait to join the Big Blue Nation in its quest for No. 9.”
Barbee played for Calipari at UMass before starting his coaching career as a graduate assistant on the Massachusetts staff in 1995-96. The Minutemen advanced to the NCAA Final Four in Barbee’s first season as a member of the coaching staff.
He served as an assistant coach for two seasons at UMass before taking an assistant coaching position at Wyoming. Barbee rejoined Calipari as an assistant at Memphis for six seasons from 2000-06. The Tigers earned a 20-win season in each of his six years on staff. The Tigers claimed a pair of Conference USA titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament three times during his tenure including an Elite Eight run in his final season.
Barbee was hired as UTEP’s head coach in 2006. During his four-year tenure at the helm of the Miners program he averaged 20.5 wins per seasons and exceeded his win total from year-to-year. His most prolific season at UTEP was his last in which he led the Miners to a 26-7 overall record, a C-USA regular-season title and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2009-10.
He became Auburn’s head coach prior to the start of the 2010-11 season. He spent four seasons as the head coach of the Tigers and has amassed an overall 131-127 record as a head coach.
As a player, Barbee helped lead the Minutemen to a pair of Atlantic 10 championships and two NCAA Tournaments. UMass went 91-39 during his four-year career. Barbee still ranks among the school’s all-time leaders in numerous statistical categories, including scoring with 1,643 points. He was a second-team All-Atlantic 10 player in 1991 and 1993 and All-Atlantic 10 Freshman team selection in 1990.
The Indianapolis native played professionally in Spain and France after his playing career at UMass. He earned his B.A. in sports management from UMass in 1993, with a minor in African-American studies. He and his wife, Holly, have a daughter, Hayden Alexandra, and son, Andrew Marsh.