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7 Notes from Mitch Barnhart’s interview on KSR, including why UK’s all in on the checkerboard

UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart came on KSR this morning to recap some of the big happenings in the UK sports world in recent months, including the announcement of a new baseball stadium, the football team’s big turnaround, and new renovations to the Joe Craft Center. Here are some notes from his appearance, including an awkward conversation about the influx of checkerboard on the new uniforms.

1. The new baseball stadium has been a long time coming

Mitch said UK has wanted a new baseball stadium since 2007, and now, the plan is finally in place to build one, with construction scheduled to begin in February.

“I said to someone, you get to a spot where you sometimes get what’s good, you sometime get what’s better, and if you wait long enough, you get what’s best,” Mitch said. “We got what’s best in terms of location, coming off Alumni Drive off Tates Creek and it continues to create the village we wanted to create for UK Athletics.”

For more details on the $49 million stadium, click here.

2. Mark Stoops doesn’t flinch

A few weeks ago, it looked like Mark Stoops’ time at Kentucky might be coming to an end, but somehow, UK turned the season around, which Mitch said is a testament to Mark Stoops’ resiliency.

“I think if you look at the person that Mark is, he always talks about not flinching, and I will say this, the guy never flinches. He goes right on and he battles. And I think that’s become a little bit of the hallmark of this group,” Barnhart said. “I think this team has some resiliency and you’ve seen from an insider’s perspective, you shut your doors and say, okay, this is the family we fight with and they’ve done a remarkable job of staying together and people are seeing that.”

3. The team has adopted Stephen Johnson’s steadiness

Barnhart said quarterback Stephen Johnson’s calm demeanor and steadiness has also rubbed off on the squad.

“You’re playing with a young man at quarterback who is brand new to our program, he’s been here all of seven, eight months, whatever. His first start came two or three games into his career at Kentucky, that’s a lot to ask of a guy, to walk into that system in this league to do that, and Stephen’s done a remarkable job of learning and still battling. I tell you, he’s a pretty even keeled guy, and the team has taken on a little bit of that personality. Pretty even keeled, make a mistake, go back out to the next play and we found our way through. The resiliency has been great. Internally, they fight for each other and they battle for each other.”

4. Barnhart admitted he was worried when Drew Barker went down

When Drew Barker went down with a back injury, most of us thought it spelled doom for Kentucky’s season. Like the rest of us, Barnhart admitted he panicked.

“No question, when Drew went down, you sit and you’re saying, okay this is the guy we thought would be the guy we would run with and he’s in trouble health-wise,” Mitch said. “Yeah, for sure, your thoughts go to well, how will this play out. To the coaches’ credit and the team’s credit, their resiliency and taking care of one another, they moved forward step by step.”

Barnhart again pointed to Stephen Johnson’s leadership as one of the reasons Kentucky’s been able to turn it around.

“He has got a remarkably steady personality,” Barnhart said. “If you watch him, he’s a remarkably steady young man. There’s a personal inner faith with him that’s really, really cool, and he’s a steady guy.”

5. The updates to the Joe Craft Center aren’t just for basketball

Earlier this week, Barnhart announced UK will make some renovations to the Joe Craft Center, similar to those at the new football training facility. Today, Barnhart said it’s important to keep the Craft Center, which houses men’s and women’s basketball, current.

“We definitely know that basketball’s been the marquee program for Kentucky for years. We’ve got to make sure we’re current with that and that we’re honoring that the right way.”

Mitch said the renovations will also include the addition of a “wellness center” with a training table to help feed the student athletes on the north side of campus.

6. UK Basketball will stay at Rupp Arena

Kentucky’s lease at Rupp Arena runs through the 2018 season, but Mitch said the plan is to extend that lease, especially in light of the recent renovations.

“I don’t see anything changing,” Mitch said. “I expect [that lease] to extend. We’re thankful for the renovations, the new scoreboard, the new ribbon boards, the sound system, all of that is really good.”

It’s amazing how much the recent renovations have changed the atmosphere at Rupp.

7. About that checkerboard…

Matt ended the interview by asking why the athletic department has gone all in on the checkerboard motif, from the new court at Rupp to the widely panned new basketball uniforms. Mitch got a little defensive about the checkerboard, which honors Secretariat, and honestly, the whole exchange was a little awkward.

“Well, it’s not ‘Checkerboard U,’ and you’re right, your opinion doesn’t matter that much to me, Matt,” he joked. “I’m just kidding. I appreciate your input.”

Mitch then explained how the department is trying to align itself with Secretariat, to which Matt interrupted and pointed out that Secretariat wasn’t even born in Kentucky (he was born in Virginia).

“I understand. Matt, here you go again. We like what he did, he ran a great race, he had a great career. So we align ourselves, there are people here locally we work with very closely with, so we’ve got that. He was one of the greatest that ever ran. So we’ve aligned ourselves with some silks that are sort of cool. Our players love it, our athletes like it and they like it on their uniforms.”

Matt interrupted again to point out that the players have gone on record saying they DON’T like the checkerboard on the new uniforms.

“Matt, it depends on who you ask. I’m not going to cut you off and I’m not going to argue — are we really arguing about uniforms, seriously?”

Check out the podcast to fully appreciate the exchange. Mitch comes on at the halfway mark:

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.

32 Comments for 7 Notes from Mitch Barnhart’s interview on KSR, including why UK’s all in on the checkerboard



  1. UKFaninNY
    12:34 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

    I gotta say – Major props to Matt for not bowing down to Barnhart and keeping at it about the checkerboard



  2. UK Fan
    1:00 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

    Do as I SAY, apparently is becoming the “new” tradition at KY…There has been enough Q & A by the media in audio & video to the basketball players discussing the uniforms, he knows they don;t like them, yet pretends they all “love” them…..Tradition where whatever $$$$$ wins out….where fans opinions matter even less



    • UK Fan
      1:57 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

      Missing part of KSR where Matt was upset about UK treatment of Oscar Combs …just relisten to it…OMG..to make Oscar Combs call and ask …”got room for me on press row” is such an INSULT…To reduce press row to legendary press members just to sell the seats for big bucks is discussing. Oscar Combs, Larry Vaught Dick Gabriel have sent the majority of their life reporting UK just shows UK ISN’T about family ..IT’S ONLY ABOUT $$$$$$$$



  3. Willis talkin bout....
    1:07 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

    I don’t really understand why he would feel he needs to defend the Uniforms. Unless Joe Craft, Cal or the players really wants them, then let the kids change. The floor at Rupp looks ok in my opinion, and everywhere else the checkerboard isn’t as pronounced. Its just those fugly uniforms that are too much.



  4. secrick
    1:10 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

    I think Matt was an a**hole about the uniforms. My God Ky is playing pretty good football and this dummy wants to argue uniforms like a baby. Why didn’t he ask about the time outs Stoop was to have missed last week since he wants to bring up stuff that really doesn’t matter.



    • UKFaninNY
      1:36 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

      Actually, if you had a clue, you’d know the missed TO’s matter too



    • secrick
      1:47 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

      UKFANNINNY, Your one of those fans that cried about the time outs even though we won the game.Such a shame fans like you can’t enjoy the win and stop looking for things to complain about.It’s like Stoops said , if your talking about time missed time outs you know nothing about the game. Glad we are both on he same team and GO CATS



    • chrisg18
      2:31 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

      Ya know it’s ok to not be happy with every single thing going on in the athletic program just because the football program is turning things around. The two have no relation, and even though I think Mitch is a good AD, he is far from perfect. He should be able to discuss civilly things that people disagree about. He came off like a child.



  5. inside info2
    1:15 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

    This is another reminder that Barnhart is not a good AD. He does not know how to properly interact with people. I have seen him be this exact same way with fans MULTIPLE times. He is always defensive and confrontational. This is why he cannot raise money and has to delegate that. Raising money is one of, if not THE main jobs of an AD.



  6. Neal Orac
    1:37 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

    I would buy a checkerboard pattern but decided not to because of explanation
    .



  7. Neal Orac
    1:39 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

    Seriously, he just shit in a checkerboard pattern. It came out in check board.



  8. Neal Orac
    1:40 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

    I like dude, I really dude, but that was nonsense. KSR’s intevire turned me against UK’ AD,



  9. Neal Orac
    1:43 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

    spell correct failed me.



  10. ClutchCargo
    1:45 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

    Not sure why, but I get just a little irritated everytime I see or hear Barnhart. The guy must have the worst social skills of any major college AD.



  11. Neal Orac
    1:45 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

    Barnhardt suddenly becomes the enemy for middle of the pack fans



  12. ibescootch
    1:47 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

    Neal Orac, you’re a train wreck.



  13. za
    1:56 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

    I love the football jerseys and I don’t love the basketball jerseys. So it’s not really a checkerboard thing. Matt takes something that he’s convinced is a good idea/worthy point and runs it in the ground.



    • leon singleton
      2:10 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

      Reminds me of Purina feed company and checker cab company,



    • DelrayCat
      3:33 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

      Reminds me of that orange crap in the end zones about 3 hours south of Lexington.



    • za
      4:58 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

      Reminds me of Cartoon Network, or Corvettes, or even the Sacramento Kings



  14. Sentient Third Eye
    2:22 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

    Personally I like the checkerboard motif, but on those basketball unis, the pattern was just too large. It needs to be reduced by about 20% and perhaps stretched vertically just a tad to better fit the space it inhabits. It’s still a good idea, though. Secretariat is one of the greatest athletes in this planet’s history.



    • chrisg18
      2:32 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

      If you think a horse is an athlete. I do not.



  15. chrisg18
    2:37 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

    Mitch came off really poorly in his defensive answer. The AD at Kentucky should be able to discuss in a civil manner any matter within the athletic program, no matter how big or small, without acting like a child. Not everyone will agree with everything you do Mitch, so just explain your reasoning and move on. But when players and former players are publically saying they dislike the new uniforms, it is silly to say the athletes love them. You are either just lying to the fan base to save face or showing you are really out of touch. Players don’t like them. Fans don’t like them. Don’t pretend differently. And yes, we are arguing about uniforms because they do matter.



  16. Callinstraight
    2:39 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

    To each their own but I could not care less about uniforms. Cannot understand why people make such a big deal out of them. I thought Matt was being pretty jerky about the unis to be honest. Who cares if Secretariat wasn’t foaled in Ky. Calipari, Cobb, Rupp, etc., etc. weren’t born in Ky either. I could go on and on and on naming legendary people and horses that Kentucky proudly calls our own that weren’t born or foaled here.



    • DelrayCat
      3:32 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

      I can tell you why most fans hate it.
      Because Tennessee had it first.
      We look like copy-“cats”.



  17. bdan83
    3:07 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

    For some reason Matt seems like the kid who was the first in school to get the new Converse Larry Johnson’s and made fun of the kids who wore Faded Glory



    • mj7juice
      5:11 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

      Barnhart is a joke, plain and simple. He immediately became defensive when asked about the uniforms. This is an immediate red flag that it was his decision. He is just trying to save face and sounded like a child in the process. What a jerkoff. Guess what Mitch, the fanbase, players, and surely coaches DO NOT LIKE the checkerboard. Why are we placing horse racing patterns on athletic jerseys? It looks awful. Embarrasing. Please get rid of them along with the secondary logo and new UK logo. All half a** creations.



  18. KevinM
    4:22 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

    You do know Mitch was Sr Assoc AD at Tennessee in the 90s (96-98) don’t you? He simply just couldn’t leave it in Knoxville and let creative UK marketers come up with something unique?



  19. Charlie Warrior
    6:59 pm October 28, 2016 Permalink

    I like the subtle checkerboard in the football end zone and at Rupp. I like the tie-in with Kentucky’s horse racing history. In these instances, the pattern is subtle… shades of blue. Not as appealing when the checkerboard is contrasty, like the blue and white on the basketball jerseys. In the end, though, I think this is a graphic element that BBN can embrace and become a recognizable element of UK Sports!



  20. BlueDew
    9:30 am October 29, 2016 Permalink

    Don’t forget the U.K. AD was senior associate AD at UT. So he loves the checker design.