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UK Athletics getting it done under Mitch Barnhart

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With the baseball and softball teams earning NCAA Tournament berths over the weekend, UK athletics’ continued success under Mitch Barnhart is drawing some serious praise as the 2013-14 seasons wind down. Almost all 20 of UK’s athletic teams are performing at new heights, while the one that is most notably down, the football team, is rebuilding unlike ever before.

So tonight, join me in celebrating the success of UK athletics with a rundown of how the teams performed in their 2013-14 seasons. Basketball and football get all of the attention, but the secondary, non-revenue sports need some love, too.

It has been a great year across the board athletically, and academically.

*****

Britney Howard | UKAthletics.com

Baseball

Coming off an SEC Tournament Final Four run that included a win over top-seeded and regular season champ Florida, the UK baseball team earned an NCAA Tournament berth, its eighth in school history.

The Cats enter the tournament with a total of 15 wins over top 50 RPI teams, the third-best total in all of college baseball. UK also went 11-9 against the top 25 and 7-4 mark versus the top 10, with wins over No. 1 Virginia, No. 1 South Carolina, No. 5 Vanderbilt, No. 8/9 Louisville, No. 12/7 Florida, No. 24 Alabama and No. 17 Mississippi State.

The NCAA Tournament begins this Friday with a 2:00 p.m. matchup against Kansas in Louisville.

Junior A.J. Reed led the NCAA in home-runs, slugging and OPS, and was named SEC Player of the Year. He is the second player in UK history to earn POY honors.

Bob Donnan | USA Today

Men’s Basketball

The men’s basketball team needs no introduction to you guys; we all know how its season ended. Thanks to Aaron Harrison and arguably the two biggest game-winners in school history, the Cats reached the Final Four for a 16th time and earned a fourth runner-up trophy.

The 2014-15 Wildcats are the favorite to return to the title game with one of the deepest and most-talented rosters ever.

Women’s Basketball

UK women’s basketball made its school-record fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2014, and was selected to host the first and second rounds of the tourney for the first time in school history.

UK Hoops also reached the SEC Tournament Championship for a second consecutive season and its fourth time in five years.

The Cats were 6-3 in the regular season versus top 25 opponents and 4-3 against teams in the top 10.

Cross Country

UK women’s cross country star Cally McCumber was named All-American for a second consecutive season in 2013. The senior finished 13th at the NCAA Championships for her second straight top-15 finish. The UK women’s team posted a third place performance at the SEC Championships, two better than the fifth place finish in 2012.

On the men’s side, junior Matt Hillenbrand picked up Second-Team All-SEC honors as the Cats finished fifth overall at the SEC’s, one spot better than the year before.

Regina Rickert | KSR

Football

Like the men’s basketball team, UK football needs no introduction to KSR readers. We know where the Cats stand and the lofty expectations for the future.

Mark Stoops’ first season didn’t finish the way we had hoped in the win column, but there is no doubt excitement is at a level unseen in a long time and recruiting has never been better at the University of Kentucky.

The facilities are getting a much-needed makeover, too, as money pours into the program unlike ever before.

Golf

UK men’s golf just completed a 17th place finish at the NCAA Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas, its first time in the NCAAs since 2006 and eighth appearance in school history.

The Cats placed in the top five of eight of their 11 tournaments prior to the 17th place finish in Kansas.

UK women’s golf reached the NCAA East Regional.

Gymnastics

For the second consecutive season, UK gymnastics broke the school record NCAA Regional score with a 195.925 to place fourth.

Senior Audrey Harrison qualified for the NCAA Championships, where she finished tied for 18th among 45 competitors. Only 10 other Wildcats have qualified for the national championships in the program’s history.

Rifle

The rifle team finished second in air rifle and third overall at the 2014 NCAA Championships, while sophomore Connor Davis won the individual air rifle title, becoming the first Wildcat to win an individual air rifle championship since 1994.

Soccer

UK men’s soccer’s season fell short in the Conference USA semifinals with a 1-0 loss to Charlotte. UK reached the NCAA Tournament in 2012 for the first time since 2003.

UK women’s soccer fell to No. 2 UCLA in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championships, 3-0. The Cats won 14 matches and finished in the top five of the SEC for the second year in a row, while hosting an NCAA Tournament match for the third consecutive season.

Chet White | UKAthletics.com

Softball

Kentucky softball is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history after defeating No. 3 UCLA twice over the weekend. UK’s best season ever continues against Louisiana-Lafayette in the double-elimination NCAA tourney in Oklahoma City on Thursday.

Swimming & Diving

Senior diver Greg Ferrucci earned All-America honors for the seventh time in his career at the NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships in March. The Wildcats finished the three-day championship in 37th place and one of 48 schools to score at least one point.

The women placed 23rd overall for the school’s best finish 2008.

Britney Howard | UKAthletics.com

Tennis

Not only did UK men’s tennis produce KSR’s first intern, Tom Jomby, but the Cats had quite a season on the court, too. Cedrick Kaufmann’s squad finished third in the SEC and advanced to the semifinals of the 2014 SEC Tournament, before falling to No. 2 Oklahoma in the school-record fifth straight Sweet 16,. The Cats were without Jomby, the team’s No. 1 player, against the Sooners after he suffered a foot injury in the round before.

UK women’s tennis saw senior duo Caitlin McGraw and Cece Witten reach the NCAA Doubles Championship, while the 32nd ranked Cats fell to Virginia in the NCAA’s second round.

Track & Field

UK women’s track and field finished fourth at the SEC Outdoor, its best finish since 1983. In the men’s team standings, UK finished sixth, the highest placing since 1996.

Four Wildcats won a total of five individual SEC Championships over the course of the SECs: Kendra Harrison, 100 and 400 meter hurdles; Raymond Dykstra, javelin; Andrew Evans, discus; and Keffri Neal, 1,500m.

Volleyball

UK volleyball made its ninth straight NCAA appearance and hosted a Regional as the tournament’s 15 seed. However, No. 20 Michigan State knocked off the Cats in Memorial Coliseum to earn a spot in the Sweet 16, also held in Lexington.

Senior Whitney Billings became UK’s first-ever three-time All-America honoree as Kentucky concluded the season with a No. 20 ranking, its fifth top 25 finish under Craig Skinner.

In The Classroom

UK’s student-athletes combined for their best academic season since 2002-03, the first year complete grade information was available. The Cats combined for a 3.218 cumulative GPA, marking the fourth consecutive semester with a 3.0 or better.

Women’s cross country, men’s golf and men’s tennis received NCAA awards for their APR scores, placing in the top 10 percent of Division I schools in their respective sports.

Mitch Barnhart, your thoughts? barnhart-dancing

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

35 Comments for UK Athletics getting it done under Mitch Barnhart



  1. UpperSectionStudent
    8:05 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Welp, this comments section is about to get really obnoxious and lack a lot of intelligence. Here we go…



    • JC
      8:23 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      Yup. I agree. I just set a reminder in my calendar to come back and check out all the ignorance that is about to come up in here. We are about to go full Louisville Cardinal fan stupid in this thread.



    • Dee W.
      12:23 am May 28, 2014 Permalink

      “Softball Kentucky softball is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history after defeating No. 3 UCLA”

      You mean the first time in the Women’s College World Series – sort of the equivalent of the “Final Four” – they’ve been in the tournament a number of times and were in it previously to reach this point.



  2. McMatt
    8:05 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    I wonder how much access you would lose if you posted the truth.



  3. pharcyde
    8:15 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    I’d trade success in volleyball, baseball, softball, track, tennis, swimming/diving, soccer, rifle, gymnastics, for elite basketball and a .500 SEC record in football any day.



    • Andrew
      8:25 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      You don’t think we’re considered elite in basketball? and as far as football goes, give Stoops and crew a little more time.



    • JC
      8:26 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      So, basically you just want a football and men’s basketball department. And I guess you’re cool with us cheating too and go full North Carolina on the academics. I enjoyed watching the baseball and softball teams this last week as much as basketball in March.



    • pharcyde
      8:36 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      *continuation of elite basketball



  4. c.b.
    8:16 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Mitch is getting the job done, who would you guys rather have tommy turtleneck!



  5. c.b.
    8:19 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    its more then that pharcyde, but am with you only keep up with FB and BB



  6. Hawkeye Tim
    8:31 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    About time….well done KSR and Mitch. FYI you are a little late in the Mitch bandwagon. I’ve been on it for a couple years. Plenty of room.



  7. Astonished
    8:32 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Be sure to disinfect when you pry your lips from Barnfart’s ass. Good grief!



  8. Rei
    8:33 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Football will get there. We still have a winning record over UL in that sport. Plus everything else we have is better than what they have. Heh, they only outrank UK academics in social work, which is ironic knowing just how badly Louisville needs things like that.



  9. realdealblue
    8:34 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    I have a friend who has never seen a woman who met his high standards, she needs to be 2 inches taller, 10 pounds lighter or needs a better tan. A lot of UK fans are the same way, if we don’t win a NCAA championship in basketball every year the season sucked, never mind that only 35 schools has ever won a title. Mitch has done the best job as AD in my lifetime of 55 years and I for one am thankful to have him in Lexington.



  10. rainman
    8:54 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Personally I think in the early going he was misunderstoood, (at least by me).
    And most of the blame I think is on him. His lack of understanding is his own fault!
    It seems the more we’ve gotten to know him, the more likeable he is.

    All programs seem to be on a high right now, and he deserves a ton of credit!

    Hell, just the fact he didn’t even consider Petrino gives him buku points with me!



  11. houndstooth
    9:04 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Mitch May be getting it done now- but look what we had to go through to get to this point So here is the The top 10 reasons I don’t like Mitch Barnhart.

    1st- Football. Under Mitch, we didn’t keep Guy Morris because he wanted to leave and UK didn’t offer him enough money. I understand Guy wanting to go home but I do not understand offering him less money than what we offered Rich Brooks. Taking Rich Brooks cost us one of the best offensive lines, UK went from a 7-5 recort to a 4-8 record. Now I understand we were on probation, but either way this didn’t set well with me.

    2nd-UK football record. While Rich Brooks did have two seasons that were 8-5 and two seasons of 7-6 it wasn’t because our football team was any better, it was mainly due to scheduling. For Example, in 2006 UK went 8-5 but went 4-4 in the SEC. In 2007 we UK went 8-5 and 3-5 in the SEC. Even though we would love those records now- they are mediocre at best and we never finished better than 4 in the eastern division.

    3rd- Rich Brooks left because he couldn’t get the changes for commonwealth stadium that we are now getting. (recruiting room ect.)

    4th-While all of our nonprofitable sports (baseball, softball,) got new stadiums, the football team did not, until recently.

    5th- Billy G. need I say more

    6th- Coach Cal didn’t even get a call before Billy G. was hired. (This may have been because of Lee Todd.)

    7th- I know Mitch interviewed Coach Cal- but it took Joe B. Hall to convince him to come. The only reason I bring this up is I think Coach Stoops called Mitch and asked to be interviewed and then blew Barnhart away. It almost seems like Cal and Stoops fell into Mitch’s lap instead of Mitch pulling them away from a job. Do you think Memphis is a top tier basketball school? I wouldn’t even put it in the top 10 even though Cal made them a top basketball school.

    8th- You will even admit he is bad at fund raising.

    9th- He has raised ticket prices for football and hasn’t put a better product on the field yet- ( I do think stoops will get the job done). I personally know dozens of people who will not go to another game because of the cost and they can stay at home and watch it for almost free. (yes I know attendance is down at most schools- but driving them away by raising prices is a whole different argument).

    10th- When you talk to the man for the first time- it’s just weird how he ask you what you do for a living.

    On your show today you mentioned how UK may have the best basketball and football athlete since Adolf Rupp and Coach Bryant-I think you need to look at the 1977 football and the 1977-78 basketball teams and then look at the 1984 football and the 83-84 basketball (no really the same seasons but aren’t facts optional!)



    • Bringith
      9:20 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      You, sir, are an absolute idiot. You can’t argue with stupid. Just go back and read your comments.
      Guy Morris left to get paid $1,000,000 per year at Baylor. There was no way he was going to be paid that by UK. Look how well he did at Baylor. Mitch has done an excellent job. I mean, do you even remember Larry Ivey and the mess that needed to be cleaned up? Sure he made some mistakes (Billy G) but no one bats a thousand.



    • Eric
      9:41 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      HAHA.. this guy knocks rich brooks… then tries to get mad at barnhart because “rich brooks left because he couldnt get renovations for commonwealth”

      Some people wont ever be satisfied… i just wish these people would stop supporting UK. We would be better off without you!



    • Reality Check
      12:22 am May 28, 2014 Permalink

      You forgot Joker and setting the football program back 5 years.



    • timer
      6:51 am May 28, 2014 Permalink

      Excellent post….



    • houndstooth
      8:32 am May 28, 2014 Permalink

      Bringth, maybe you should reread my comments. I wrote that Mitch may be getting it done now (exception is football-but I think we are improving), I just don’t like how we got here or what we had to go through to get here. Yes I knock Rich Brooks (130-156 college football record) but I’m not mad because he left. Yes I remember Larry Ivy, but the topic was Mitch Barnhart and what he has done. Between Joker and BIlly G- most ADs would have been fired- he ruined the two money programs. Now with that being said, I do believe our overall sports program is top 10 in the nation. I just don’t like how we got here. Yes I left off joker, but no one bats a thousand.



    • UKfan
      10:07 am May 28, 2014 Permalink

      houndstooth,

      how about we do whats called a relative comparison. Which athletic director would you like to compare Mitch to and then we can do a relative analysis on how well or poor he has performed.

      Question: Do you think that the university would have gotten the support (i.e. money) for the football program if it had not been allowed to tank.

      As far as BIlly G is concerned, he was considered a top hire by many when UK hired him.

      Tell me this, how many times has UK been in trouble with the NCAA under MItch’s direction. I have met him personally on a few occasions and I can tell you that I am glad he is our AD.



  12. catfan62
    9:15 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    UK softball in the NCAA tournament for the first time ever? Check your facts.. You just lost some creditability, and I support u Drew.. Its their first time reaching the WCWS (women’s college world series). They have been in the NCAA tournament several times in the last few years, they have just never made it past the super-regionals.



  13. ushouldno
    9:20 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    I personally feel that Mitch is as good or better than any AD UK has had in the years I have been following the cats and that is over 50. He is not perfect, has made some mistakes, but is very dedicated to the university and is very supportive of the coaches and athletes. The athletes I have heard talk about him are very positive about the way he deals with them.

    There are those who will never be satisfied with his work, he should keep on doing his job, have clean, honest, programs expect teams to strive for championships and I will be happy.



    • UKfan
      10:08 am May 28, 2014 Permalink

      100% agree with you.



  14. Kenny Power's Agent
    9:47 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    That gif…



  15. Eric
    9:51 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Bottom line… Collegiate athletics have changed A TON over the last 15 years, and Mitch has brought us into the 21st century. Kentucky is a top 10 athletic program overall. That is something that we couldnt say before he took over. Barnhart is responsible for EVERY SPORT. I understand that Football and Basketball make the money (bball is better than ever, and football saw success it hadnt seen in 30 years under barnhart until Joker).



  16. Bucket of cold water
    10:20 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Fun fact….in the 2013-2014 school year UK was one of three schools in the SEC along with Ole Miss and Mississippi State to not claim a conference regular season or tournament title. Carry on….



    • jaws2
      10:57 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      You mean we didn’t win rifle?



  17. SEC Logo
    11:15 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Clarification: UK, Mississippi State and Ole Miss did not win a SEC tournament or regular season conference title in 2013-2014.



  18. Dee W.
    12:26 am May 28, 2014 Permalink

    Does the SEC not have soccer…or why is UK playing in Conference USA in that sport?



  19. Mark L.
    8:56 am May 28, 2014 Permalink

    Hate the fact that you forgot the one team that has more championships than anyone – Cheerleading! I believe they had a pretty good year also. I have two girls and both of them and their friends always talk about KY Cheerleading. They deserve a bit of respect – they’ve got ours.



  20. Randall Gosling
    6:50 pm May 28, 2014 Permalink

    What about the cheerleader team?



  21. ok-cats-computer
    7:00 pm May 28, 2014 Permalink

    Kentucky has not won a conference football game since 2011. There isn’t another school in the SEC that would allow the AD to survive such an extreme failure in football.