Lady Bobcat basketball coach Michael Bari during the 2014-15 season.
Lady Bobcat basketball coach Michael Bari during the 2014-15 season.

Former WVWC women’s basketball coach dies of COVID-19 at age 58

BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — West Virginia Wesleyan College alum and former women’s basketball head coach Mike Bari, 58, passed away on Thursday, May 14 from complications due to COVID-19. He passed at Cristus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital in Alexandria, La. 

Bari graduated from WVWC in 1984 and immediately began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at East Stroudsburg University.

He returned to his alma mater in 2014 to lead the women’s basketball program. In two seasons, Bari collected 11 victories with the Lady Bobcats. He moved on to Salem University as the head coach for two seasons, and then retired from coaching to concentrate on The Michael Bari Show.

Bari has hosted his own talk show since 2011, focusing on personal development and productivity within the sports industry. 

As a student from 1981 to 1984, Bari was a member of the Bobcat baseball team and he played a season at Central Arizona College before first arriving in Buckhannon.

He completed his Master’s Degree from East Stroudsburg in Health & Physical Education. After ESU, his coaching stops brought him to Penn-State Behrend (Head Baseball Coach, Assistant WBB), Alderson Broaddus (Head WBB), Gannon (Head Baseball, Assistant WBB), Colorado Northwestern CC (Athletic Director), and LSU Eunice (Head WBB).

Bari’s longest coaching tenure was at LSU Eunice, where he led the Bengals to a 154-113 record over nine season, including an appearance in the NJCAA Final Four in 2007. His Bengals also reached the NJCAA District Finals six times. He was the second women’s basketball coach in school history, and led the program to its first winning season in 2005.

At the time of his passing, Bari was continuing to host The Michael Bari Show as well as serving as a play-by-play broadcaster on the Bayou Sports Network in his home state of Louisiana.

He is survived by his wife, Kelle, and his two sons, Steven and Matthew.

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