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The Mitch Hath Spoken

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For those you you who don’t know, I’m in graduate school at UK and one of the courses I’m taking this semester is called International Intelligence.  We just basically talk about the CIA, James Bond and waterboarding for two and a half hours every Thursday.  What did we do in class this week?  Well, our professor went out and found the best guest lecturer on the topic of International Intelligence in Lexington- Mr. Mitch Barnhart. 

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Patrick, Mitch Barnhart is an Athletics Director, what could he possibly know about Intelligence matters?” I know.   I was skeptical, too.  Come to find out, Mitch really doesn’t know anything about International Intelligence but he did say some very interesting things about UK athletics.  Allow me to recap.

-Something that shouldn’t be surprising is that football and basketball are the only two revenue producing sports.  What I didn’t know is how far all other programs are from being viable.  The closest, he said, was Women’s Basketball.  “They make about $250,000 a year.  But they spend about $1.5mil.”  So next time you hear someone complain about spending $7 million on a dorm or the bucketfulls of cash to pay Coach Cal, just know that by doing so it helps keep all the other programs afloat.

In football, they employ the Three C’s of recruiting.  Character, Commitment and Capacity.  The latter, he explained, is a unique situation for the football team.  Florida, Georgia, Alabama and others recruit guys that come in and are able to play right away.  UK doesn’t have that luxury and have to search for guys with high capacity (read: room for improvement), redshirt those guys to give them time to develop and hope that they’re ready a year removed from high school.

He and Coach Cal are still going to be discussing the viability of exhibition games.  Some reported that Coach doesn’t want to play any more exhibitions, instead wanting to play in closed scrimmages against other D1 teams.  But Barnhart said the revenues from those exhibitions are crucial.  He also commented on how excited Campbellsville players were to play against UK in Rupp and how it is important for the state to have our smaller schools to have a chance to play the Big Blue.

-“The local media hasn’t figured out that negative doesn’t sell.”  He then proceeded to recall the story of exactly when he cancelled his subscription to the local paper.

-Here’s a stat for you.  98.5% of NCAA revenues come from college basketball.  And a majority of that from March Madness and the CBS broadcasting rights.  Little to no money is made in football because the Bowl games are all privately run.

-He also brought up several good points about NCAA policies that need some adjusting.  He said, and he wasn’t speaking on John Wall specifically, that sometimes kids, for whatever reason, just don’t have the money to go on college recruiting visits.  So it seems unfair that the NCAA levies penalties on these athletes just because someone helped them get on campuses.  Of course, he went into some interesting detail, but I’ll leave that for another day.  Or maybe a Live Blog if I’m ever invited back onto one. 

At the end of his talk I knew nothing more about spies, conspiracies or who shot JFK than when I entered. But I did leave VERY impressed with Mitch Barnhart.  He was way more candid than I had ever anticipated and I ended up learning quite a bit.  Now I just need to finally peel that “Ditch Mitch and Rich” bumper sticker off the back of my car.  I’d say it’s time, right?

Article written by Patrick Barker