Tony Barbee

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Tony Barbee
At Kentucky's 2015 Blue-White scrimmage
Sport(s) Basketball
Biographical details
Born (1971-08-10) August 10, 1971 (age 45)
Indianapolis, Indiana
Playing career
1989–1993 UMass
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1995–1998 UMass (GA/Asst.)
1998–1999 Wyoming (Asst.)
1999–2000 UMass (Asst.)
2000–2006 Memphis (Asst.)
2006–2010 UTEP
2010–2014 Auburn
2014–2015 Kentucky (Spec. Asst.)
2015–present Kentucky (Asst.)
Head coaching record
Overall 131–127 (.508)
Tournaments 0–1 (NCAA)
3–2 (CBI)
0–4 (SEC)
4–4 (C-USA)
Accomplishments and honors
  • A-10 regular season championship (1992, 1993)
  • A-10 Tournament championship (1992, 1993)
  • C-USA regular season championship (2010)
  • NABC District 11 Coach of the Year (2010)
  • C-USA Coach of the Year (2010)

Anthony Michael "Tony" Barbee (born August 10, 1971) is an American college basketball coach and the former head coach at Auburn University. Barbee played college basketball for the University of Massachusetts under Coach John Calipari. Barbee later served as an assistant under Calipari at Memphis and often cited Calipari as his mentor. Barbee had previously coached at UTEP. On March 24, 2010, Barbee was named the new head coach at Auburn University, becoming Auburn's first African-American head coach in a major sport. Barbee was fired on March 12, 2014 after four years on the job.[1] On Aug. 1, 2014, he was hired as special assistant to the head coach at University of Kentucky under Calipari.[2] The following season, he was promoted to assistant coach to replace Barry Rohrssen, who left Kentucky to join the staff of head coach Chris Mullin at St. John's.[3]

Early years[edit]

Barbee was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and grew up as a fan of the nearby Butler University Bulldogs. Butler recruited him to play for the team, but Barbee chose to play for UMass instead.[4] In his four years as a Minuteman, Barbee averaged double-figures in scoring every year. He finished with 1,643 career points. The Atlantic 10 named him to the league Freshman Team in 1989–90, and the Second Team in 1990–91 and 1992–93. The Minutemen compiled a 91–39 (.700) overall record during Barbee's four years, and advanced to two NITs and two NCAA Tournaments. He graduated from UMass in 1993 with a degree in Sports Management.

After UMass, Barbee played professional basketball in Spain and France.

Assistant coaching[edit]

For the 1995–96 season, Barbee returned to college basketball as a graduate assistant at UMass, helping as the Minutemen reached the Final Four for the first time in program history. After Calipari moved to the NBA and Bruiser Flint was promoted to head coach, Barbee was also promoted to assistant coach, where he would work with the Minutemen for two additional seasons.

Barbee spent the 1998–99 season as an assistant coach with Wyoming. He then returned to UMass for one more season, and then moved to Calipari's staff again, this time at Memphis, starting in the 2000–01 season, where he would establish a reputation as an excellent recruiter.[5] Barbee spent six years with the Tigers, as the team compiled a 148–59 (.715) record.


Barbee was hired as the coach of the Miners on August 14, 2006, succeeding Doc Sadler, who moved to coach Nebraska.[6] Barbee was the first African-American head coach in UTEP men's basketball history.[7] This was another milestone for the program, as their 1966 team, then known as Texas Western, became the first team with five African-American starters to win a title game, defeating Kentucky and their all-white team.

Barbee spent four seasons in El Paso, and the Miners improved steadily each year. The 2009–10 season was the highlight during Barbee's tenure. The Miners made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five seasons. Their regular season conference title was the first since the 2003–04 season, when UTEP was a member of the WAC. Barbee was named the C-USA Coach of the Year, as well as the NABC District 11 Coach of the Year.[8]

The Miners went 82–52 (.612) under Barbee's leadership.


Barbee coaching in 2013

Tony Barbee was named the head coach of the Auburn men's basketball team on March 24, 2010 and was formally introduced the following day in Auburn Arena.[9] Barbee became the first black head men's or women's basketball coach at Auburn.[10]

Tony Barbee lost his first game as Auburn's head coach on November 12, 2010 to UNC Asheville in overtime 70–69. This was also the first men's basketball game played in Auburn Arena.[11] Barbee did not get his first win at Auburn until the 4th game of his first season, beating Middle Tennessee 68–66.[12] Barbee never had a winning season at Auburn; his best record came in the 2011–12 season when Auburn finished 15–16. Auburn lost 16 of 17 SEC games during a stretch of the 2012–13 season under Barbee.

The Barbee era at Auburn was fraught with off the court issues. Following the 2011–12 season, Auburn point guard Varez Ward was arrested on charges of point shaving.[13] Of the 21 players that Barbee signed while at Auburn, only 9 remained on his roster in his 4th season due to player dismissals and transfers.[14]

Barbee was fired on March 12, 2014, minutes after losing in the first round of the SEC Tournament to South Carolina 74–56.[15] He finished with a cumulative record of 49–75 (.395), the lowest winning percentage of any Auburn head coach with more than a two-season tenure.

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
UTEP (Conference USA) (2006–2010)
2006–07 UTEP 14–17 6–10 10th
2007–08 UTEP 19–14 8–8 6th CBI First Round
2008–09 UTEP 23–14 10–6 4th CBI Finals
2009–10 UTEP 26–7 15–1 1st NCAA First Round
UTEP: 82–52 (.612) 39–25 (.609)
Auburn (Southeastern Conference) (2010–2014)
2010–11 Auburn 11–20 4–12 5th (West)
2011–12 Auburn 15–16 5–11 T–10th
2012–13 Auburn 9–23 3–15 14th
2013–14 Auburn 14–16 6–12 12th
Auburn: 49–75 (.395) 18–50 (.265)
Total: 131–127 (.508)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


  1. ^ Katz, Andy (March 25, 2010). "UTEP's Barbee to coach Auburn". Retrieved April 3, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Barbee Joins Staff as Special Assistant to the Head Coach". University of Kentucky. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "Barbee Elevated to Assistant Coach". May 22, 2015. Retrieved May 22, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Barbee, A schoolboy fan of Butler, now out to beat them". ABC 7, KVIA El Paso. 2010. Retrieved April 3, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Coach Bio: Tony Barbee". Auburn Athletics Department via CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 3, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Tony Barbee named men's basketball head coach at UTEP". UTEP Athletics Department via CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 3, 2011. 
  7. ^ Zenor, John. "Breaking Color Barrier Not Unique to Auburn's First Black Head Basketball Coach - Higher Education". Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  8. ^ "UTEP's Barbee Named NABC District 11 Coach of the Year". Retrieved April 3, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Tony Barbee Named Auburn Head Basketball Coach". Retrieved 2016-02-28. 
  10. ^ "UTEP's Barbee accepts Auburn's coaching job". Retrieved 2016-02-28. 
  11. ^ "Auburn opens new arena with overtime loss to UNC-Asheville". Retrieved 2016-02-28. 
  12. ^ "Tony Barbee, Auburn celebrate first win in new arena". Retrieved 2016-02-28. 
  13. ^ "Ex-Auburn G Ward indicted for fixing games". Retrieved 2016-02-28. 
  14. ^ "Auburn fires men's basketball coach Tony Barbee, search will begin immediately (updated)". Retrieved 2016-02-28. 
  15. ^ "Phillip Marshall: It just didn't work for Barbee". Retrieved 2016-02-28. 

External links[edit]