University officials confirm tonight that Auburn has hired UTEP's Tony Barbee as its new basketball coach. The 38 year-old Barbee led the Miners to a 26-7 record and the regular season Conference USA Championship this year.
"We are thrilled to welcome Tony Barbee into the Auburn Family," athletic director Jay Jacobs said Wednesday night. "Coach Barbee has a vision of competing for championships at Auburn, and the passion to get us there. He is a phenomenal coach, an outstanding recruiter and a fierce competitor.
"Coach Barbee also shares Auburn values and is the right man to lead our team and represent Auburn University and the Auburn Family," Jacobs said. "The bottom line is Tony Barbee is a winner. We could not be happier to have him as the new face of Auburn Basketball as we prepare to open a new era in a new arena next season."
Barbee says he's ready to get started. "I'm very excited about the opportunity to join the Auburn Family and proud to be the next head coach at Auburn," he said. "We have challenges in front of us, but we also have great opportunities with everything Auburn has to offer - a great university, outstanding community, tremendous fan support, and a terrific new arena and practice facility. The time is now to take Auburn basketball to new heights."
A John Calipari disciple, Barbee played for the current Kentucky coach at UMass and served as his top assistant at Memphis. Barbee has spent the past two days being interviewed by Auburn officials including athletic director Jay Jacobs. There's no word tonight on the length of the contract or how much he'll be paid.
In his fourth season with UTEP, the Miners were beaten in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last week by Butler. In recent days, Barbee has been linked with job openings at Iowa, DePaul and Oregon. Barbee beats out former Auburn All-American Chuck Person, North Texas coach Johnny Jones, Wright State coach Brad Brownell and Sam Houston State coach Bob Marlin.
Barbee will be officially introduced as Auburn's new coach during a press conference tomorrow.