A message to our athletic director, Mitch Barnhart, during a time in college athletics and especially in this state, where this kind of message needs to be sent:
Thank you. For your 14 years of service to the University of Kentucky, its sports programs, and fans of the Cats.
Thanks for hiring Rich Brooks and Mark Stoops. But also for hiring Joker Phillips. Because whether a coach stayed here 2 years or 7 years, won lots of games or lost lots of games, you’ve only hired quality individuals for our football program.
Thanks for firing Billy Gillispie. Because when you recognized a coach’s behavior did not fit the standards of your athletic department, you made a change and you made it quick. I can think of two other prominent coaches in this state who have showcased worse behavior than Gillispie and still have their jobs. And thanks for not trying to convince us that Gillispie was a “man of integrity” or a “Kentucky man”. Instead, you decided it was better he was an “unemployed man”.
Thanks for taking chances too but when those risks work out not needing to be celebrated. John Calipari was a risk. Much like Bobby Petrino was a risk for UL. But unlike our rival, if Calipari cheated in the way UL has been caught cheating, basically damaging the integrity of the games our university plays, I feel confident you would not claim that he was the victim, but rather make him own up to his mistakes and maybe even get rid of him.
Thank you for never needing to be known. You let the players and coaches of our teams be the stars. You don’t care whether you are seen or known. Unlike your counterpart at Louisville, you don’t need the respect of your fanbase. You earn that through the quality of the people you employ and the wins they produce. Thanks for not caring about being liked. Don’t worry though, we do like you.
Thank you for thinking integrity matters in an athletic program and actually meaning it.
Thank you for surviving and thriving in a “win at all costs” era of college sports. I certainly think you want to win bad but you could have hired cheaters in all sports and allowed terrible behavior across the board and maybe won more games. You didn’t fold. That takes guts.
Thanks for making us proud of our program.