Big congratulations are in order for Mitch Barnhart, who was just named Athletic Director of the Year by the Sports Business Journal.
Barnhart was one of five finalists for the award along with Ray Anderson (Arizona State University), Jennifer Cohen (University of Washington), Blake James (University of Miami) and Jamie Pollard (Iowa State University). He was presented with the honor at the 12th annual Sports Business Awards tonight at the New York Marriott Marquis at Times Square. This is Barnhart’s second time being a finalist for the award, the first being back in 2015.
“I am honored and thankful to represent the University of Kentucky in receiving this award,” Barnhart said. “It’s truly a testament to the incredible work our student-athletes, coaches and staff have done to build a program to make the Big Blue Nation and the Commonwealth proud. I also want to say a special thank you to my wife, Connie, and my entire family for taking this journey with me. We have much work ahead of us though, and we can’t wait to do it.”
AD of the Year goes to Mitch Barnhart of @UKAthletics : "It's an honor to be with friends in the sports business … and it's an honor to represent the University of Kentucky." #SBJAwards pic.twitter.com/qyzo09O5Kr
— Sports Business Journal (@sbjsbd) May 23, 2019
Let’s quickly run through what has been a banner year for UK Athletics. The rifle team won the 2018 national championship; the volleyball and men’s soccer team won their conference championships; the men’s basketball team finished in the Elite Eight; and, oh yeah, the football team capped off its most successful season in four decades with a win in the Citrus Bowl. Plus, the baseball team just opened a beautiful new stadium and the department’s streak of semesters with a cumulative grade-point average above 3.0 is now 14. UK is currently tied for sixth in the Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup standings, which is on pace to be their highest finish ever.
“During Mitch Barnhart’s tenure as Director of Athletics at the University of Kentucky, we have reached unprecedented levels of academic and competitive accomplishment,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “This award recognizes his deep and compelling commitment to students and their personal success, and to the academic mission of the institution. You see that commitment in the program’s strong graduation rate and grade point average. Several teams have competed for and won conference and national championships, along with individual titles and recognitions in virtually every sport. And UK Athletics’ financial investment in academic and need-based scholarships and in our instructional facilities is unmatched. At each step of the way, he built upon this momentum with respect and integrity. I know I speak for the entire UK family when I offer him our heartfelt congratulations on this well-deserved honor.”
Congrats, Mitch. A well-deserved honor.