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Fans of the Central Michigan basketball program have been clamoring for a splash hire, and rumors swirling Thursday afternoon appear to make those dreams come true.

The Chippewas have found their next men’s basketball head coach in Tony Barbee, who will leave Kentucky after seven seasons as an assistant coach to John Calipari.

Barbee, 49, played college basketball at UMass under Calipari while also coaching with him at Memphis from 2000-06. He spent last season with a title as associate head coach while focusing on defense during his tenure there.

Barbee does have head coaching experience with two stops between UTEP and Auburn from 2006-2014. At UTEP his team won the Conference USA regular season title while earning an NCAA tournament bid in 2010. His record at Auburn was 49-75, ultimately landing him back as an assistant coach. He brings a ton of experience to CMU and has coached at the premier college program for a long time.

This is the exact kind of hire Amy Folan needed to make in her first year as Athletic Director. Barbee is someone who can help fix recruiting issues, and get the Chippewas back into the conversion of contending for MAC championships for years to come.

An official announcement is expected Friday afternoon that will be followed by a press conference to introduce Barbee to the program.

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