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UK A.D. is A-Plus: The man in charge is doing a great job – and we should let him know we think so



It was a great night.

Rather low-key in terms of Madness, but between Coach Mitchell stankin’ and Drake shootin’ and Anthony Davis interruptin’ Cal and the cheerleaders jumpin’ and – oh yeah – Skal and Jamal showin’ us they were for real on the court, it was a great time.

The disappointment of the three-point loss to Auburn Thursday night was just about over for me. Because of a lovely friend of mine, my wife and I were in the house that next night for Big Blue Madness, and the prospect of another Final Four in basketball had perked me up.

It was awesome.

At the end of the event, my wife and I made our way down to the court. Advice: Listen to Matt Jones. Act like you belong, and you will get in. We mingled with the folks on the floor and low and behold I found myself face to face with the man in charge: UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart.

As a journalist I’d never seen the man outside of professional situations before. I re-introduced myself and my wife and I told him I needed to say something.

He stopped, and like the nice guy he is, gave me his undivided attention.

That’s when I thanked him.

With the crowd around us still buzzing and players high-fiving fans, I told Mitch I appreciated what he’d done to get us to this point.

The recently named AD of the Year just smiled and shook my hand. He said he appreciated that – but his smile faded for a moment.

“You know, we let one get away last night, one I wish we could’ve gotten,” he said, referring to the Auburn football loss.

The pain in his voice was real, still there after more than 24 hours. He shook his head. The man is competitive for sure. And you could tell in that moment how much he cared about UK sports and his coaches – and how much he wants to win for his fans.

It made me appreciate him even more.

I told him that it’s a testament of how far we’ve come that we can feel so bad about not beating Auburn. Because we knew we should’ve won – it shows UK football is a player now in the SEC. And that is commendable.

And that’s what I said.

He seemed to take it in, but he wasn’t satisfied. We talked for a few minutes more and I tried to convey how much I appreciated his work.

At no time in my life have UK’s sports teams been as respected or competitive – from men and women’s basketball on down to that outstanding rifle team.

There are other AD’s across the country who do wonderful jobs, but not with the professionalism and humility of ours at UK. I wouldn’t want anyone else in that position.

So many times these days, people only talk when they’re upset, when they disagree with what’s going on. Call it Facebook syndrome. I know it as a journalist – few times do you hear someone compliment your work.

I’d like to change that. I like people to know when I appreciate them.

So I was glad I got to say it to Mitch Friday night.

In short, I hope other fans feel the same way – and I hope that, if they get the opportunity, they’ll tell him the same thing.

We’re lucky, and it’s time we start showing it.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know. Hit me up @rhinoKSR and check me out on the web at


Article written by Ryan Clark

Ryan Clark has spent most of his life avoiding real work. He has walked the back nine with Tiger Woods, partied with Lebron James in New York and watched Kentucky basketball with Ashley Judd. He's hunted for ghosts in Civil War mansions, screened a movie with Cameron Crowe and interviewed Klan members while eating fried Twinkies at the Mississippi State Fair. He's made bets at the Kentucky Derby with Gilbert Gottfried, shared bootcamp quarters with our nation's finest National Guardsmen and women, and was even named an honorable mention Academic All-American while on academic probation at WKU. It makes sense then that he's now an editor and an instructor at Northern Kentucky University.

20 Comments for UK A.D. is A-Plus: The man in charge is doing a great job – and we should let him know we think so

  1. Bluego
    9:11 pm October 19, 2015 Permalink

    I think the job of ANY AD at a big school (UK, BAMA, UF, UT, UL,etc) is over rated. For example with UK basketball– Anyone could succeed IMO. Best facilities, best fans, basically unlimited funds to hire, build, recruit with no financial worry. I think Mitch has done a good job, but come on, its not that difficult.

    • Walt Edwards
      11:52 pm October 19, 2015 Permalink

      I do not understand the effusive praise for the man who overlooked Calipari for BCG, and who thought Joker Phillips would EVER make a head coach in the SEC.

      As for UK never being in better shape in Ryan’s lifetime, he must be still a baby: in 1998 UK won the National Championship in basketball and played in the Peach Bowl with 7 wins and the Number 1 pick in the NFL Draft after beating both Louisville and LSU. Hmmm. Wonder how Stoop’s bowl-less “can’t score 10 points on Florida” Troops would fare against that Tim Couch squad? The cheerleading squad was in the middle of an 11 year reign as National Champions.

      As for that much vaunted Rifle Team, we’ve managed only one national championship since he’s been here, and let’s not kid ourselves — there are only 25 coed Rifle Teams in the entire country — and that’s if you count teams like Wofford, Akron, Jacksonville, UT Martin, and Murray State.

      We’re doing okay overall, but if you take away the basketball success brought about by the man Barnhart thought was not as good a coach as BCG, then you have a football team that hasn’t been to a bowl in — well, likely Ryan’s lifetime, and a bunch of generally competitive but not really top notch teams. I say this not to be a downer, but to suggest that the hero worship of Barnhart is misplaced as of yet.

    • Dude
      11:58 pm October 19, 2015 Permalink

      Walt, you should just not follow UK sports. It’s obviously upsetting you too much.

    • Redneck Cat Fan
      12:23 am October 20, 2015 Permalink

      I agrre with walt,,,,we should be dommanating all sports and at every thing.There no reason why we should be losing to any one ,,,any where.perod..Even hour cheer leading has sucked.Thsi is on you Mitch!!!!

    • Moto
      5:45 am October 20, 2015 Permalink

      Walt, I admittedly can’t decipher most of your post but UK football went to a bowl game in 2011 (for the 2010 season). So we haven’t been to a bowl game in Ryan’s lifetime? I can’t believe it took you the equivalent of 5 paragraphs to try to convince us you were ignorant of facts, we knew that after a few sentences.

    • Moto
      5:54 am October 20, 2015 Permalink

      And Walt, are you combining a bunch of events into one? We won the 98 championship in bball and played in the Outback bowl not the Peach Bowl, that was in 93 and 1976. So what are you talking about?

  2. Aristotle
    9:20 pm October 19, 2015 Permalink

    Bluego probably stocks shelves at Walmart and it telling people managing a college athletic department isn’t that difficult.

    • Nailed It
      9:37 pm October 19, 2015 Permalink


  3. timer
    9:20 pm October 19, 2015 Permalink

    The ADs in the SEC have reaped the financial windfalls from the deals the SEC has made with the networks.

  4. leon singleton
    9:25 pm October 19, 2015 Permalink

    F for hiring Billy Clyde and Joker.

    • leon singleton
      9:38 pm October 19, 2015 Permalink

      I never made no mistakes in my life never.

    • Sean
      10:27 pm October 19, 2015 Permalink

      Yeah BCG and that whole coach-in-waiting deal with Joker was a disaster. Presently, the inability to deal with a dissenting opinions makes him unlikable.

  5. BenHur
    9:28 pm October 19, 2015 Permalink

    In my opinion, UK athletics has never been in a better position. Also, we didn’t have to give up our morals, commit fraud, or sell our souls like UL to get there. Mitch didn’t do it all, but he had a part in all of it, from the coaching hires, to the facilities, to the bright future.

    • BtownUKFan
      10:33 pm October 19, 2015 Permalink

      Agreed, two of the last three ADs left under a cloud. C. M. Newton had worked at Vanderbilt and Alabama as a coach. Barnhart has done an outstanding job of raising the level of all UK sports and the three highest profile coaching jobs are filled by good men. Also, he has helped the head coaches to keep their assistants.

  6. Jimbob Bautista
    9:54 pm October 19, 2015 Permalink

    Great article, and well said, Ryan.

  7. Bluehaz
    10:10 pm October 19, 2015 Permalink

    There are many sports ar UK, other than basketball and football. Look at the whole picture, UK is at the top. Give the AD the credit he deserves !! I am proud to be a UK fan.

  8. chimichanga
    10:59 pm October 19, 2015 Permalink

    Thank you for all you do, Mr. Barnhart.

  9. Rance Price
    9:08 am October 20, 2015 Permalink

    Yeah hiring of Billie Clyde and joker has to have some stock. Barnhart is just OK

  10. Negative Fan
    10:22 am October 20, 2015 Permalink

    OMG! What is the football team’s record since Barnhart has been here? HE IS SO COMPLETELY OVERRATED.

    11:19 am October 20, 2015 Permalink

    WE ARE 4-2! 4-2! We all want to be 6-0 but we are only two years removed from back-to-back 2-10 seasons so everyone Calm Down and be greatful we aren’t 2-4.