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Move to keep Mitchell an investment in UK Hoops

Well done, Mitch Barnhart.

Not only do you have your university in the running for the Capital One Cup, but you’ve just secured the job of one of the school’s most talented coaches in Matthew Mitchell. As Drew told you earlier, Mitchell received a new contract today that will make him the highest-paid women’s basketball coach in the SEC. Over the next seven years, he’ll earn a minimum of $7.95 million, with a boatload of incentives, including a $250,000 retention bonus if Mitchell stays at UK through the end of his contract, a base salary of $525,000 starting next season, and $375,000 in media and endorsements. That’s a far cry from Mitchell’s salary when he started at Kentucky n 2007 ($150,000 base, $100,000 in media/endorsements). And then, there’s an additional $1.3 million Mitchell can earn in performance-based incentives (titles, honors, and GPAs). Needless to say, boy got paid today, and it is well-deserved.

Despite UK Hoops’ huge success over the past few seasons, women’s athletics still has its share of detractors, who claim that it’s a waste of money and university efforts. Mitch Barnhart’s actions to keep Coach Mitchell in Lexington blow that fallacy out of the water. When asked how he justifies spending so much money on sports that lose money, Barnhart spoke the plain truth: “We’ve only got two programs here that make money.” In fact, he said that the point of Mitchell’s contact was to show the university’s commitment to women’s sports, not revenue. It’s an issue that hits close to home for Barnhart, whose two daughters want to play sports at a high level one day: “I want women to have opportunities to play at a high level. We were willing to invest in that.” (All the ladies in the house say “yeaaaaaah.”)

Mitchell’s new contract is a reward years in the making; he has taken a program that was an afterthought to fans and competitors and reshaped it into a legitimate contender. By tapping into the Big Blue Nation’s thirst for all things basketball with charisma, charm, and the Dougie heard ’round the Bluegrass, Mitchell put UK Hoops on the map. In return, by giving him the payday he deserves, Mitch Barnhart is making sure it stays that way.

More proof that Mitchell gets it? He’s donating $100,000 of his new money back to the university for academic purposes. Mitchell said it was his way of giving back to the university and showing the administration that “we’re partners here.” When the great Pat Summitt announced her retirement a few weeks ago, I know I wasn’t the only one slightly worried that Mitchell may grab that old brass ring. It would have been a natural move: Mitchell was a graduate assistant at Tennessee, is spoken of highly by Summitt, and the UT program is the elite of the sport. Yet, today Mitchell assured fans that he and his family were Wildcats through and through: “One of the most special things about Kentucky is the people that support the university, and that is the Big Blue Nation.” Showing just how much the program has grown under his watch, Mitchell said fans come up to him all the time and tell him they want him to stick around, and that is proof that his job “is the best job in the country to have.”

Sound familiar?

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

23 Comments for Move to keep Mitchell an investment in UK Hoops

  1. Chris
    5:37 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    Great decision! A great long term coach is what lays the groundwork for tradition….just look at Rupp and what he set in motion. The return gesture by Mitchell will show future recruits that he is here to stay and he will also get continued fan support growth. The BBN likes nothing better than a great coach that’s all in….congrats to women’s basketball team.

  2. Richard P'zey
    5:43 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    What a waste. Paying top dollar for a sport that only dozens of people actually care about while your football team has no future yet is the only sport that actually generates alot of money.

  3. Smyrna_Cat
    5:50 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    1 is right … great decision. Take a hike, 2.

    And thanks Tyler … it is nice to read something on this site that actually appears to be written by someone who understands sports AND the English language.

  4. kywildcat
    5:51 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    The just lost their recruiter to ut so well see how he does.

  5. zcats
    5:57 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    Absurd, and it is clear why they announced this the week after football renewals were due. Mitch should be ashamed. What they should do is put the money into intramural sports and physical activities for women. At least then more people would be interested and get something out of the expenditure.

  6. Juan4UK
    5:57 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    I’d like to see the national breakdown of the women’s coaches salaries. Basketball and then…the others (volleyball, softball…). Goal is to see where UK is with Mitchell nationally, and then how we look with the other women’s sports. I believe we made a respectable commitment with softball last year as well.

  7. shorthop69
    5:59 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    Well I believe it’s a tremendous waste of money, and every citizen of the Commonwealth should be outraged. A cool million per year to coach a “sport” that loses money. What a joke.

  8. Smyrna_Cat
    6:20 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    You weasels on here that are blasting this must be trolls from Tennessee or some other SEC school that is concerned you will lose EVERY b-ball game to UK. Suck on it.

  9. Linda Taylor
    6:25 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    Shorthop69–There is NO taxpayer money going to Matthew Mitchell’s salary so exactly why should the Commonwealth be outraged? For you to put the word sport in parentheses shows how ignorant you are. Have you ever been to one of the women’s games? They would run you off your feet in your prime and you’d be lucky to get to the other side of the court still in possession of the basketball. You are the real joke.
    All of you people who say people aren’t interested in women’s basketball don’t know what you are talking about. Just because YOU aren’t interested doesn’t mean other people aren’t either. If you attended the women’s games you would know that.
    We will be looking forward to renewing our season tickets to enjoy another year of outstanding women’s hoops under coach Mitchell. I fully expect the tickets will cost more next season, but the increase will be well worth it.

    6:26 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    Great job Mitch!

    Matthew Mitchell is a star on the rise. I for one want to be like UConn – where BOTH teams are perennial contenders.

    Tell Tennessee and UConn that women’s sports can add exposure to your school. They just have to be given the opportunity and resources.

  11. Cat fan in FL
    6:39 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    Congratulations Coach Mitchell, well deserved.

  12. Appalachianassassin
    7:06 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    I think it was a good move IMHO. I am pretty sure Cal and Coach Mitchell’s salaries are paid by booster donations to the athletic dept. So trolls taxpayers arent footing the bill at all

  13. Appalachianassassin
    7:10 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    Classy move by coach donating 100 racks back to the school btw.what a great example to set, that man can flat coach, they play an entertaining style, and the job he’s done building on the foundation coach DeMoss set,was remarkable as well.

  14. CatGrad7072
    7:14 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    Congrats Coach Mitchell! …… honest.

    Note to Mitch: Now go and spend money on a real FB coach.

  15. Jerry C
    7:17 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    The athletic dept will lose roughly 18 million dollars on women’s basketball during the length of his contract. Spending this money while the football program languishes is beyond absurd!

  16. Jimmy C
    7:38 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    Why don’t we put some money into the embarrassment we call a “football” program instead of women’s basketball. Just pull out the attendance record and take a gander at 60,000 paying customers versus the 2,000 at a women’s basketball game.

  17. jpgott2
    7:51 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    Keep it up Mitchell!!

    16.) Do you think putting in $7 million over 7 years is going to do anything for football! Football needs a new coach, and upgrades to the stadium and facilities. Oh we also need to have the state government embrace the program, like they do UL, when it comes to bonding. They got over 5 million to repaint their stadium seats from the kentucky state budget, for crap sakes. Oh, and we play in a REAL football conference called the SEC, and not some JV league, called the Big East (Anyone can win in that)

    Everyone else, please think before posting, for many of the posters on here seem to not understand any of the real issues at hand.

  18. kes
    7:52 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    dumbass, stupid waste of money. MEANWHILE, our football team remains the laughing stock of the SEC

  19. JRupp
    8:07 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    How did Barnhart blow the “fallacy” of wasting money on women’s sports “out of the water” by this move?
    Upping the amount of money committed only makes it more likely that it will be a waste.

    If Cal and Mitchell are paid by in part by boosters (and program revenue), how many diehard, big money, women’s basketball boosters have you ever heard of?
    UK boosters with even a passing interest in the football program have to be incensed by this.

  20. Realist
    9:42 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    UK could spend 50 million on the football program and they would still be in the basement of SEC. Enjoy the occasional Compass Bowl and watch the women’s basketball team win conference titles. Good job Mitch.

  21. JRupp
    9:47 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    It’s fitting that you related a crappy bowl to being enjoyable and a women’s conference title as watchable.

  22. Duke sucks
    1:39 am May 4, 2012 Permalink

    Good job Mitch. To think this guy had a loosing record when we hired him. UK has invested plenty in to football. Joker was named coach in waiting because he was a hot name in CFF at the time. Joker hasn’t produced when he got his shoot like Mitchell has that isn’t Barnhart’s fault. Who do you experts think UK can bring in. UK football isn’t a job big time coaches want. The best we can hope for is to get a young up and coming coach like MM was in WBB. This isn’t Barnhart fail its Jokers alone.

  23. Dr. Funke
    10:43 am May 4, 2012 Permalink

    Women’s sports?? GET BACK IN THE KITCHEN!!!!