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The University of California, Merced athletics department is proud to announce the hiring of Mike Barbee as the next Bobcats men's and women's cross country coach. A 14-year coaching veteran with experience at the NCAA, junior college and high school level, Barbee joins the Bobcats as the fourth head coach in program history.
"We are excited to have Mike lead our cross country program," director of recreation and athletics David Dunham said. "He brings a wealth of experience from different levels which we feel will continue to build upon the success the program has experienced. Mike's passion for the sport and his energy will allow him to take the cross country program to the next level."
Most recently Barbee has been working with the Florida State University Seminoles' men's distance program as an operations assistant since 2015. Prior to his time at FSU he was the head cross country and track and field coach at Eastern New Mexico University for two years. While leading the ENMU Greyhounds their success was seen with multiple athletes qualifying for the NCAA Championships including a two-time All-American and 15 school records.
"First and foremost I'd like to thank Marie Supanich and David Dunham for entrusting me to lead the Bobcat cross country teams," Barbee said. "Through the hiring process, my interest and excitement have only grown while learning more and more about UC Merced. While visiting with students and faculty during my interview and observing the university in action I witnessed UC Merced experiencing amazing progress and I can't wait to participate in the athletic department's role in the progress."
Barbee, a Michigan native, was a member of both the cross country and track and field teams at Western Michigan University where he completed his Bachelors of Science degree in Education in 1999. His coaching career started at Corona High School in 2001 as the head boys and girls cross country and track and field coach. During Barbee's tenure at Corona his girls cross country team was unbeaten in dual meet competition for three years and his boys team won two conference titles.
He later advanced his resume while coaching at Riverside Community College for seven seasons (2003-10) as the head women's cross country and track and field coach. Within his time at RCC the cross country team achieved five top-10 team finishes at the state championships, and four times for track. In 2009 he was named the CCCAA Women's Track & field Coach of the Year.
Barbee's coaching experience also includes stints at McNeese State University and University of South Alabama. While at South Alabama as the cross country coach and distance assistant he led the 2011 women's cross country team to their best season in more than a decade. Additionally his men and women combined for four new school records.
"I look forward to meeting the student athletes and pursuing the next crop of Bobcats that will help the growth of the university and bring the cross country program to new heights," mentioned Barbee.
The Bobcats will enter their seventh year as an intercollegiate squad representing the California Pacific Conference with Barbee at the helm. Their 2017 schedule will be released in June.