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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Mitch Barnhart’s 11 Years in Perspective

Mitch Barnhart began his UK career for the 2002-03 athletic season, meaning he finished his 11th full season as A.D. this year. And in that time, opinion of him has shifted back and forth. The hiring of Rich Brooks and increasing football success gave him some positive energy. The hiring of Billy Gillispie ruined that momentum. John Calipari, back up for Barnhart, and the struggles of Joker Phillips has made that approval rating go back down.

But, despite what others may think, being the athletics director at the University of Kentucky means that he oversees EVERY SPORTS TEAM at the university, not just the men’s basketball team. Certainly, there is no more passion for a particular team like there is for basketball, but that is not Mitch’s job. Barnhart’s job is to try and improve the entire athetic program and to MAKE MONEY. As you see below, Mitch has improved every sport listed in overall record and NCAA Tournament berths/Bowl Games, except for men’s basketball. In each sport I listed Barnhart’s success during his tenure, and the success of each program in the same amount of time before he came to UK:

BASEBALL
11 Years Before Barnhart: (325-268-2 Overall, 120-193-2 SEC)
-0 SEC Championships
-1 NCAA Tournament Berths

11 Years Since Barnhart: (358-268-1 Overall, 134-193-1 SEC)
-1 SEC Championship
-3 NCAA Tournament Berths
_____________________________________

SOFTBALL (1st season of program was 1997)
6 Years Before Barnhart: (140-226 Overall, 43-96 SEC)
-0 SEC Championships
-0 NCAA Tournament Berths

11 Years Since Barnhart: (296-333-1 Overall, 92-211 SEC)
-0 SEC Championships
-5 NCAA Tournament Berths
______________________________________

FOOTBALL
11 Years Before Barnhart: (44-81 Overall, 22-65 SEC)
-3 Bowl Bids
-0 Bowl Wins

11 Years Since Barnhart: (59-73 Overall, 23-68 SEC)
-5 Bowls Bids
-3 Bowl Wins
______________________________________

VOLLEYBALL
11 years Before Barnhart: (178-167 Overall, 79-67 SEC)
-0 SEC Championships
-2 NCAA Tournament Berths

11 Years Since Barnhart: (210-128 Overall, 118-78 SEC)
-0 SEC Championships
-7 NCAA Tournament Berths
_______________________________________

MEN’S BASKETBALL
11 Years Before Barnhart: (315-73 Overall, 139-37 SEC)
-8 SEC Championships
-11 NCAA Tournament Berths (2 National Titles)

11 Years Since Barnhart: (294-93 Overall, 133-45 SEC)
-5 SEC Championships
-9 NCAA Tournament Berths (1 National Title)
_______________________________________

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
11 Years Before Barnhart: (172-179 Overall, 48-100 SEC)
-0 SEC Championships
-1 NCAA Tournament Berth

11 Years Since Barnhart: (226-135 Overall, 87-76 SEC)
-1 SEC Championships
-5 NCAA Tournament Berths

So, would you call that a successful athletics director? I certainly would. He hasn’t ruined the men’s basketball program. In fact, after the horrendous Gillispie hire, he bounced back with an amazing hire and won a national title. He has improved every other major sports listed above, and maybe most importantly, HE HAS INCREASED REVENUE EVERY YEAR HE HAS BEEN ATHLETICS DIRECTOR. Mitch Barnhart runs a business called the University of Kentucky Athletic Department, and he runs it very successfully.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

23 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Mitch Barnhart’s 11 Years in Perspective



  1. Look Out Fireworks!
    9:23 am August 14, 2013 Permalink

    Recycling old posts?



  2. Oweeo
    9:24 am August 14, 2013 Permalink

    I read this in “Who Gives A Shit?” magazine.



  3. UKCats81
    9:31 am August 14, 2013 Permalink

    Would be interesting to see how this compares to other AD’s. The tone gets set at the top, and while Mitch has not been perfect, his record of improvement is undeniable and he runs UK Athletics with class and integrity.



  4. mike
    9:35 am August 14, 2013 Permalink

    It was the boosters that hired Calipari, not Mitch. Stop giving him credit.



  5. unreconstructed
    9:38 am August 14, 2013 Permalink

    # 4….Right On!!!!!

    He also kept the Tubster waaaaay too long!!



  6. snoopcat1
    9:53 am August 14, 2013 Permalink

    Barnhart hired Joker and Gillespie. Failure.



  7. Loyal lie
    10:03 am August 14, 2013 Permalink

    Billy Clyde and Joker Phillips. Cough cough. Thank god for Cal and Stoops.



  8. Loyalblue
    10:03 am August 14, 2013 Permalink

    Gotta love auto correct.



  9. Stumpy
    10:13 am August 14, 2013 Permalink

    Don’t forget the terrible situation the previous AD put the school in, and the integrity in which MB runs the department now.



  10. Rei
    10:22 am August 14, 2013 Permalink

    while I do think Mitch is a good AD, he’s made some boneheaded hires in order to save money (BCG, Joke).



  11. TrueBlue63
    11:06 am August 14, 2013 Permalink

    Yes, he hired Gillespie, but that’s cause he couldn’t get Calipari at that time. The money was always there, but Calipari wasn’t interested. And Joker was the choice damn near EVERY UK fan wanted. He bursted on the scene with the showing in the season finale against Tennessee and he was the OC with Woodson, Little, Burton, and Tamme. Gillespie and Joker didn’t work out, BUT he got Calipari and Stoops. And from what I can tell, they’re both excellent hires and completely wipe away the previous coaches from memory.



  12. The ghost of Bill Hicks
    11:15 am August 14, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t blame Mitch that much on drunk Billy Clyde. He was a red hot coaching name that summer and looked like a can’t miss coach…..SOMEONE was gonna lure him from A&M, unfortunately it was UK. Disagree? Go look at his pre-UK records for turning programs around. Mitch totally gets the blame for Joker and not having the sack to hire Cal instead of drunk Billy Clyde. I can’t see that it’s a bad thing that our other sports are succeeding as long as it doesn’t come at the price of basketball & football. We’ll see if Stoops heals some old gridiron wounds….



  13. James B
    11:22 am August 14, 2013 Permalink

    I’m not sure why he gets as much grief as he does. I think he’s done an excellent job.

    BCG and Joker, while unfortunate mistakes, were not unreasonable ones. As in, they both seemed like good hires at the time. Anyone who says otherwise is likely looking more at the results than to situation when the hires occurred.



  14. Cat-in-Michigan
    11:27 am August 14, 2013 Permalink

    Calipari was interested when Mitch hired Gillespie, very interested. He has told the story many times of him coming home and asking his wife “Have they called yet”, referring to UK after Tubby’s departure. As for the record in Football before and after Mitch, look at the number of available bowl games and the strength of schedule. Lots of cupcakes during Mitch’s tenure. I agree that Stoops looks to be a great hire. Besides Football and Basketball, the rest of the sports really don’t matter much to the fans, so I’m not convinced that Mitch has done a good job.



  15. Everyone else in the World
    11:37 am August 14, 2013 Permalink

    Put up Jurich’s numbers and see how they compare…



  16. STEVE!
    12:43 pm August 14, 2013 Permalink

    The record against SEC teams in football is no better than before he was hired. Our success there is due to adding a 12th game and a creampuff OOC schedule. If you let football die, you are the worst AD in the SEC, because that is what pays the bills for the other sports. We play in the SEC. Please compare us to those teams. My guess is we would be in the bottom 25 – 33% of all sports except basketball.



  17. BravoBigBlue
    1:00 pm August 14, 2013 Permalink

    Fail. There is nothing impressive about that resume, bad to medicore in fact. And he has made some momumental mistakes. Past time for him to move on.



  18. [email protected]
    1:14 pm August 14, 2013 Permalink

    Barnhart has done a very good job overall. I won’t say he has done a great job because of the misses he had when he hired Billy G. and Joker. Yeah, at the time those hires didn’t seem to be terrible, but they weren’t exactly home run hires either. The other sports have improved under him and he redeemed himself with the two previously mentioned underwhelming hires with hires that have thus far seemingly struck gold. Anyone with half a brain knows Calipari has been outstanding and, so far, Stoops’ hiring looks like a stroke of genius.



  19. Wildcatsteeler
    2:11 pm August 14, 2013 Permalink

    He’ll always have Gillespie and Joker on his record though.



  20. Rod
    2:32 pm August 14, 2013 Permalink

    What a crock of crap!

    What gripes me about Barnhart? Can’t comment about him personally. But as an AD he comes across as a classless, self-centered, small-minded, little prick. He can’t “see the forest for the trees”. His total neglect of the football program, UK’s largest revenue sport by far, for years to push his and Todd’s minor sports agenda borders on criminal as is his outrageous contract with a ridiculous buyout. Paying a women’s basketball coach over a $1,000,000 a year is ludicrous and can never ever be financially justified. Were it not for the huge impact of the SEC contract, UK’s Athletic Department would be deeply in debt or siphoning funds from the University budget.

    Make no mistake, if the BBN hadn’t revolted and reduced season ticket purchases over the past three years by 32%, Coach Phillips would still be our coach and renovation of Commonwealth Stadium would still be a pipe dream.



  21. reality
    5:09 pm August 14, 2013 Permalink

    Nice guy. However, he had some very bad hires and some strategic mistakes. Tubby stated too long, Billy G (nothing needs to be added), Hired a coach in waiting, aka Joker (again nothing needs to be added).
    Baseball, great hire with Cohen (spelling?) but Henderson is being destroyed by UL. Needs to be fired soon!
    Womens basketball, finally a great hire!
    Soccer, Tennis, Rifle, Swim, Track & Field not too bad.
    However when you look at everything, the main money making sports he has done below average! Coach Cal and Stoops make up for it if Stoops can turn this thing around….ask this question again in 5 years….if its not a great improvement he needs to be canned!



  22. Astute Observer
    5:38 pm August 14, 2013 Permalink

    #16 – kentucky was on probation the four out of the first five years barnhart was ad due to the previous basketball good ole boys running the show for the last half century. barnhart is th best thing that happened to uk athletics. the people who complain about lack perspective.



  23. ObserverOfNotSoAstuteObserver
    9:24 pm August 14, 2013 Permalink

    #22 – Fail. #16 and #20 are correct. The top job of any AD should be feed, nourish and build up football. He didn’t…and Stoops reached out to UK first..not the other way around. My grade for Mitch ….a big fat “F”