Jacobs announced the decision on Wednesday night after the Tigers were eliminated 74-56 in the opening round of the SEC Tournament at the Georgia Dome. That ended Auburn's season at 14-16.
Barbee, who was hired away from the University of Texas-El Paso, produced records of 11-20, 15-16, 9-23 and 14-16 at Auburn. Auburn hired him on March 24, 2010. The university will have to pay a buyout of approximately $2 million under terms of his contract.
In league play the Tigers were 4-12, 5-11, 3-15 and 6-12 under Barbee's direction. That was a sharp contrast from his first job at UTEP where he posted records of 14-17, 19-14, 23-14 and 26-7 in his final season as the Miners posted a 15-1 mark in Conference USA earning him the league's coach of the year award.
Tony Barbee talks to an official in a game at Auburn Arena.
"I want to thank Coach Barbee and his staff for all they have done over the past four years," Jacobs said in a statement on Wednesday night. "I sincerely appreciate all they have given to Auburn and wish each of them and their families nothing but the best.
"As I said last year, I hoped to see significant improvement this season," Jacobs said. "Unfortunately, the results fell short of my expectations. As athletics director I expect more from our basketball program. That is why I believe it is time to move in a new direction.
"The search for a new basketball coach will begin immediately," Jacobs said. "My goal is to find a proven winner who is committed to the success of our student-athletes on and off the court.
"Our student-athletes deserve nothing less than the opportunity to compete at the highest level, and that's what I intend to deliver for them," Jacobs added.
Barbee, a star player at UMass, begin his coaching career at his alma mater and worked as an assistant coach at Wyoming and Memphis before getting his first head coaching assignment at UTEP in 2006-07.
Prior to Barbee being fired, Jeff Lebo was fired after six seasons as head coach of the Tigers. Lebo, who is now head coach at East Carolina, posted a record of 96-93 at Auburn and was 35-61 in SEC games.