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Mitch Barnhart named Athletic Director of the Year

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.”

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.


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.

21 Comments for Mitch Barnhart named Athletic Director of the Year

  1. makeitstop
    10:32 pm May 22, 2019 Permalink

    Can this please end the debate about how good our AD is? And talk about a tale of 2 cities, I’d like the trolls to self identify: who would trade our programs for U6? Nice job by Mitch and his whole team, winning right.

    • really
      11:18 pm May 22, 2019 Permalink

      I was one of those! Ditch Mitch and Rich. Wrong on both counts. Go Cats!

    • rawshid
      9:44 am May 23, 2019 Permalink

      Does Mickintheham know about this? He’ll be very excited to know Mitch won this award.

  2. Smyrna_Cat
    10:32 pm May 22, 2019 Permalink

    Well deserved indeed!!! UK sports is fun to watch these days in most sports. Kudos!!

  3. a21CATSfan
    10:39 pm May 22, 2019 Permalink

    They should give him a checkered flag for winning! I’m sure he’d love it. CATS

  4. notFromhere
    11:54 pm May 22, 2019 Permalink

    Well earned and well deserved. Congratulations to Mitch Barnhart

  5. Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
    2:29 am May 23, 2019 Permalink

    He should win it every year…because Billy G and Joker P were ah inspiring hires. If he was great he would have put money into the program when Brooks was pulling us out of the dumpster. Heck we may have won 10 wins then if he did that. It took his job being on the line before he truly tried to help this program.

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      2:36 am May 23, 2019 Permalink

      Don’t get me wrong I’m happy where we are now but you can’t bash the people who were calling for his job because back then they had good reason.

    • StillBP
      8:50 am May 23, 2019 Permalink

      Yeah actually we can call you out and say I told you so. Because most people know a person doesn’t normally walk into a new job at a school and immediately make it a powerhouse at everything. Most people know it takes time to learn, to build. That’s like the bandwagon fans who call for Cal’s job in Nov but then retract in Feb.

    • robman181
      8:59 am May 23, 2019 Permalink

      He should have been fired 10 years ago. He’s still a joke.

    • 4everUKblue
      9:10 am May 23, 2019 Permalink

      robman you’re as big a dumbass as Rabbi Li.

    • J-Dub421
      9:47 am May 23, 2019 Permalink

      Oh, yeah, sure, Mitch Barnhart could just magically come up with money we didn’t have during a recession. Upgrades to facilities cost a lot of money, and it can take years to get that money together.

  6. Rabbi Li
    4:26 am May 23, 2019 Permalink

    This is the equivalent of an award for being mediocre.

    • 4everUKblue
      6:53 am May 23, 2019 Permalink


    • Smyrna_Cat
      9:15 am May 23, 2019 Permalink

      Haters gonna hate.

    • ClutchCargo
      9:17 am May 23, 2019 Permalink

      No, pretty sure you would win the lifetime achievement award for mediocrity.

    • J-Dub421
      9:49 am May 23, 2019 Permalink

      Rabbi Li was previously banned from this site under another name. Take the hint and go away dude.

  7. ClutchCargo
    9:14 am May 23, 2019 Permalink

    I have often been critical of Mitch, and still am at times. I think some of the bashing was well-deserved (BCG and Joker hires, publicly saying that basketball is where our bread is buttered just a few years ago, etc.) But I’m not so obsessed with being right that I can’t acknowledge that he has done a great job when you look at his overall body of work. The proof is in the success of UK sports across the board, and this award is the icing on the cake. Congratulations to Mitch!

    • Smyrna_Cat
      9:16 am May 23, 2019 Permalink

      At the time, the hires made sense. They just didn’t work out.

    • Luether
      6:50 pm May 23, 2019 Permalink

      The BCG hire NEVER made any sense…

  8. UKInsider
    7:10 pm May 23, 2019 Permalink

    I’m not a fan of Barnfart and have met with him on several occasions, dating back to his first year. He is a phony and speaks out of both sides of his mouth. He has recently made good hires, but he also had a history of poor decisions, including Gary Henderson, Billy Gillespie, Joker Phillips, and that’s just to name a few.

    He had zero direct impact on academics, so we should stop giving him accolades for the work that members of CATS deserve. The guy should be judged on coaching decisions and ability to raise money. In the recent years he has been better, but let’s tap the brakes on the guy being special.