Former head coach at Auburn and UTEP served as special assistant to the head coach in 2014-15
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Head coach John Calipari announced on Friday the elevation of Tony Barbee to assistant coach after spending the 2014-15 season as the special assistant to the head coach at Kentucky.
Barbee, a former head coach at UTEP and Auburn, will rejoin the bench as an assistant coach, a role in which he has served for nine years under Calipari's tutelage throughout his career. Barbee will fill the vacated position of Barry “Slice” Rohrssen, who accepted the associate head coach position at St. John's last month.
“I'm excited for Tony, who has been a part of my basketball family for more than 20 years,” Calipari said. “Tony has proven himself to be one of the top coaches in the country. The knowledge and experience he brought to our staff last season was invaluable. To have him be a part of our staff is a blessing for all of us.”
In his first season with the Wildcats, Barbee served as the special assistant to the head coach where he assisted Calipari in a multitude of roles, including game-plan preparation, practice plans and administrative duties within everyday basketball operations.
The Wildcats enjoyed one of the most storied seasons in program history in 2014-15. UK became the first team in NCAA history to begin a season 38-0. The Wildcats also claimed the Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament crowns, while also advancing to their 17th appearance in the Final Four in school history.
“I really enjoyed my first season in Lexington and I'm looking forward to returning to the bench as a coach,” Barbee said. “I'm grateful to Coach Cal for giving me the opportunity to represent this prestigious program and university in this capacity.”
Barbee was previously the head coach at UTEP and at Auburn and has served as either a graduate assistant or assistant coach under Calipari for nine seasons. He also played for Calipari at the University of Massachusetts before starting his coaching career as a graduate assistant on the UMass 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 beginning in the 2000-01 season. 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 during 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 season 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 with the Tigers and amassed an overall 131-127 record during his two head coaching stints.
As a player, Barbee helped lead the Minutemen to a pair of Atlantic 10 championships and two NCAA Tournament berths. 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 an A-10 Freshman Team selection in 1990.
The Indianapolis native played professionally in Spain and France after his collegiate career. He earned a bachelor of arts in sports management with a minor in African-American studies from UMass in 1993. He and his wife, Holly, have a daughter, Hayden Alexandra, and a son, Andrew Marsh.
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