New CMU basketball coach Tony Barbee to make at least $420K a year

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Tony Barbee is the newest Division I head men's basketball coach in the state, but he'll be paid like a longer-tenured mid-major leader.

Barbee will earn at least $420,000 a year under terms of his five-year contract obtained by The News through a Freedom of Information Act request. The deal includes a base salary of $320,000 as well as $100,000 a year for TV and radio appearances.

The money is similar to his predecessor, Keno Davis, who was fired last month after nine seasons in Mt. Pleasant.

New Central Michigan head men's basketball coach Tony Barbee.

The deal also is comparable to Oakland head coach Greg Kampe's financial package, which is unique in that it stipulates Kampe receive the net profits from one buy game a year (he forfeited that bonus this past year, amid COVID-19 financial strain). Kampe has been on the job for 37 seasons. Barbee will make modestly more than new Eastern Michigan coach Stan Heath and significantly more than Western Michigan coach Clayton Bates. Detroit Mercy coach Mike Davis' contract isn't subject to FOIA law, because the university is a private institution.

The framework of Barbee's contract was laid out in a Memorandum of Understanding. The full contract, which could include benchmark bonuses, hasn't been released.

Barbee also will receive a $15,000 bonus, in lieu of moving expenses for his family, which is coming from Kentucky, where he was an assistant to John Calipari. His assistant-coach pool is $275,000, plus $30,000 in signing bonuses.

There are significant buyouts in the deal, including Barbee owing Central Michigan $1 million if he were to leave before Year 3. That goes down to $500,000 in Year 3, then $400,000 in Year 4 and $300,000 in Year 5. 

The buyout is the same the other way, should the university fire Barbee without cause.

Barbee, 49, spent the last seven seasons as an assistant at Kentucky, after head-coaching stops at Auburn and UTEP; he took UTEP to the NCAA Tournament. Barbee has a head-coaching record of 131-127 entering his job at Central Michigan, which hasn't made the NCAAs since 2003, the second-longest Division I drought in the state.

He also has been an assistant at Wyoming, UMass and Memphis.

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984