What do John Calipari and Mitch Barnhart have in common, other than a lot of blue in their wardrobe? Both are on a new list of the Top 100 Most Influential People in College Basketball.
Silver Waves Media spent months consulting with athletic directors, president, and agents to come up with the list of “names at the peak of their professions that win at a high level, produce top flight talent, effect movement in the college coaching carousel, and have their fingerprints all over the sport.” If that doesn’t describe John Calipari and Mitch Barnhart, I’m not sure what does.
Here’s what they had to say about both:
Mitch Barnhart – Kentucky Athletic Director and NCAA Selection Committee Chairman
No one can argue that the NCAA Selection committee doesn’t hold many programs’ fates and many coaches’ job statuses in the palm of their hand each and every year. Mitch Barnhart, the Athletic Director at Kentucky for the last 18 years, is the man at the forefront of that responsibility. He currently serves as the chair of the selection committee for the 2020-21 season where he will oversee the process of selecting a field of 64 teams with a number of different commissioners and athletic directors from different conferences and schools. The ten committee members spend countless hours evaluating teams throughout the regular season. While each committee member is given a couple handfuls of conferences they are supposed to be familiar with, the committee chair or in this case, Barnhart, is ultimately in charge of deciphering all the information in order to come to a 68 team field. The SportsBusiness Journal named Barnhart the Athletic Director of the Year in 2019 as he has been a huge part of the brand build of UK Athletics as a whole and the Kentucky Men’s Basketball program as many know it today. $300 million has been brought in to improve facilities since 2007 including the men’s basketball locker room and the programs have achieved much success.
John Calipari – Kentucky Head Coach
Not many can easily have the effect on multiple college programs like Calipari has been able to do in his career. Widely considered a marketing genius by many different college basketball experts, Calipari’s creative techniques and smooth talking ways have always made it easy for him to keep talent in his back pocket year after year. His incorporation of Kentucky Media Day, the way he has transformed Big Blue Madness, and his swaying presence in the media via different platforms has helped lure an amazing 49 NBA Draft picks to his teams during his 28-year head coaching career. He has set records for most players drafted in the first round, most players selected in a draft, longest streak with at least one top-10 pick, and most No. 1 overall picks. Another way to look at Calipari’s influence is that an astounding 38 of the 60 who finished their college careers at Kentucky under Calipari were selected in the NBA Draft, a staggering 63.3% success rate. The influx of talent available at his disposal each year has led to six Final Fours, one National Championship, and a 733-215 (.773) overall record. He is one of only two coaches (Rick Pitino) to lead three different schools to a Final Four (UMass-1996; Memphis-2008; Kentucky-2011, 2012, 2014, 2015). The Naismith HOF has seen Orlando Antigua, Tony Barbee, Derek Kellogg, Ed Schilling, John Robic, Bruiser Flint, Josh Pastner, and Chuck Martin as some of the coaches that continue to grow his coaching tree.
I like my team. Other familiar names on the list: Rick Barnes, Jay Bilas, Tom Crean, Evan Daniels, Sean Farnham, Jeff Goodman, Seth Greenberg, Bob Huggins, Tom Izzo, Coach K, Roy Williams, Chris Mack, Frank Martin, Roy Williams, and a very young looking Rick Pitino:
Might be time to update that headshot, guys. Also, only one woman on the list: Debbie Spander, Wasserman SVP of Broadcasting and Coaching. Let’s work on that too.