Kentucky hires former Auburn coach Barbee

August 1, 2014 

Former Auburn head coach and John Calipari protége Tony Barbee has joined the University of Kentucky men's basketball staff as a special assistant to the head coach, UK announced Friday.

Barbee, 42, will take over the administrative role in operations formerly held by Rod Strickland, who left to become an assistant coach at South Florida after last season.

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 in a UK news release. "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."

Auburn fired Barbee March 12, less than two hours after the Tigers lost to South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Barbee, who came to Auburn after a successful four-year stint at UTEP, was unable to breathe life into the Auburn program, posting four consecutive losing seasons. He went 49-75 overall and 18-50 in the SEC.

Barbee was 82-52 at UTEP, posting winning seasons his final three years, capped by a Conference USA regular-season championship.

Barbee played for Calipari at UMass before starting his coaching career as a graduate assistant on the Massachusetts staff in 1995-96.

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.

"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."

As a player, Barbee helped lead the Minutemen to a pair of Atlantic 10 championships and two NCAA Tournaments. Barbee still ranks among the school's all-time leaders in numerous statistical categories, including scoring with 1,643 points.

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.

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