Aug 14, 9:52 PM EDT
UTEP Hires Barbee to Be Basketball Coach
By ALICIA A. CALDWELL Associated Press Writer
EL PASO, Texas (AP) -- Tony Barbee was hired Monday to be the new basketball coach at Texas-El Paso.
The 35-year-old Barbee spent the past six years as an assistant at Memphis. He will take over for Doc Sadler, who left last week to coach Nebraska.
Barbee is the first black head coach at UTEP, a school credited with helping break down the color barrier in college sports. Sporting a new UTEP tie and lapel pin, Barbee said his first priority is continuing "a rich and winning tradition."
He has already spoken to Don Haskins, the former UTEP coach who led the 1966 Miners to the NCAA championship and made history by starting five black players in the title game against an all-white Kentucky squad. Barbee is looking forward to having Haskins continue to have a role in the program.
"My style is built on one thing, and it's winning in March," Barbee said. "Winning in March starts with defense."
Bob Stull, UTEP's athletic director, said Barbee was selected from a strong field of candidates in part because of his reputation as a top recruiter.
Stull also talked with former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, a native of El Paso who played for Haskins in the early 1960s. Richardson supported UTEP's decision to hire Barbee.
Barbee said he was "still taken aback" by the offer to lead a Division I team. He was offered the position on Sunday and immediately accepted.
He thanked his wife, Holly, "the head coach of our family," and Memphis head coach John Calipari, who Barbee played for at the University of Massachusetts.
After college, Barbee played in Spain and France. He started his coaching career at Massachusetts in 1996 and moved on to Wyoming.