CMU Names Tony Barbee New Men’s Basketball Coach

MT. PLEASANT – Central Michigan University introduced former Kentucky assistant coach Tony Barbee as its new men’s basketball head coach in a press conference Friday afternoon.

Barbee takes over for Keno Davis who was fired earlier this month after nine seasons with the Chippewas. Davis went 142-143 overall and 62-94 in the Mid-American Conference, with a MAC championship in 2015.

Barbee is the 21st head coach in CMU history.

“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,” said CMU Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Amy Folan. “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 has been an assistant at Kentucky since 2014 and previously served as head coach at the University of Texas at El Paso (2006-10) and Auburn (2010-14). He has an overall head coaching record of 131-127, including going 82-52 at UTEP with three postseason appearances and a Conference USA championship.

“During the interview process, coach Barbee demonstrated his commitment to CMU student-athletes being students first — that competing and winning is important, but that we must also maintain an emphasis on academic success. He shares our goal of seeing student-athletes with a championship ring on one hand and a diploma in the other,” CMU President Robert Davies said. “We are excited to welcome coach Barbee, his wife Holly and their children, Hayden Alexandra and Andrew Marsh, into the CMU Chippewa community.”

A graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Barbee also had coaching stops at UMass, Wyoming and Memphis.

“I’m humbled and excited to be the next head coach at Central Michigan University,” Barbee said. “It’s been a dream of mine to be in the first chair leading another basketball program, and I’m grateful to President Davies and Athletics Director Amy Folan for their belief in me and my vision.

“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.”

An Indianapolis native, Barbee earned a bachelor of arts with a major in sports management and a minor in African-American studies from UMass in 1993. He played professionally in Spain and France before turning to coaching.