Athletics News

 Mitch Barnhart
Mitch  Barnhart

Athletics Director


Kentucky Takes Over SEC Network July 4

Fans will be able to relive memorable contests and see their favorite Wildcat stars in all-day programming


UK No. 22 in Directors' Cup Standings

Second Highest in School History; Third Consecutive Year in Top 25


Barnhart Received Athletics Director of the Year Award

Barnhart is the second Kentucky AD to be selected, as C.M. Newton was chosen in 1999


UK Athletics Tops 3.0 GPA for Sixth Straight Semester

Wildcats post 3.075 GPA for spring semester


School-Record Three UK Teams Win NCAA Academic Progress Rate Award

Men's Basketball, Women's Cross Country, Men's Golf Among Nation's Top 10 Percent in Their Sports


Barnhart, Emery Press Conference

University of Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart and men's tennis head coach Dennis Emery will have a press conference Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 11:30 a.m. ET.


Gary Henderson, Mitch Barnhart Press Conference

Kentucky baseball coach Gary Henderson, who directed the Wildcats to a school-record 45-win season in 2012, has signed a new five-year contract, UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart announced Tuesday.


Barnhart after Athletics Committee meeting

Mitch Barnhart talks to the media about UK Athletics' 2012-13 budget.


Hoops vs. Mississippi State, SECT, 030615

UK Hoops defeats Mississippi State 76-67 in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament

Mitch Barnhart

The Barnhart File

Birth date: Aug. 27, 1959
Birthplace: Kansas City, Kan.
Family: Wife, Connie, daughters Kirby and Blaire, and son Scott

Ottawa (Kan.) University (B.A. 1981)
Ohio Universiy (M.S. 1982)

Kentucky -- Athletics Director (2002-present)
Oregon State -- Athletics Director (1998-2002)
Tennessee -- Senior Assoc. AD (1986-98)
Southern Methodist -- Asst. Executive Director, Mustang Club (1983-86)
Oregon -- Regional Director, Duck
Athletic Fund (1983)
San Diego State -- Intern, Aztec Foundation (1982-83)

Mitch Barnhart, who is in his 14th year as University of Kentucky athletics director, is being recognized as one of the best in the nation in his profession.

Barnhart was named NCAA Division I Athletics Director of the Year, one of four Division I ADs selected for the honor, in June at the annual convention of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.

A month earlier, Barnhart was one of four finalists for the Athletics Director of the Year as chosen by the SportsBusiness Journal. And, in February, Barnhart received the Sports Business Award from the Bluegrass Sports Commission.

It is no coincidence that Barnhart’s multiple accolades came in the same year as the completion of his 15 by 15 by 15 Plan, an ambitious blueprint set in 2008 in which Kentucky would rank in the nation’s top 15 athletic programs and win 15 conference or national championships by 2015. At the same time, Barnhart set a goal of a 3.0 composite grade-point average for UK student-athletes and an even greater commitment to community service by Wildcat athletes and staff. All of the goals presented bold, unprecedented challenges for UK Athletics.

The academic goal was first achieved in the spring semester of 2010 and has an active streak of six consecutive 3.0 semesters, hitting a peak in spring 2014 with a school-record 3.218 composite GPA. Community service has risen to more than 4,000 hours annually and includes outreach to the Lexington area, the Commonwealth of Kentucky and as far away as Ethiopia.

The Directors’ Cup objective was reached a year early when UK checked in at a school-record No. 11 in the 2013-14 national all-sports standings. The Wildcats followed with a No. 22 ranking in 2014-15, marking the third consecutive year that UK landed in the Top 25 and the three highest rankings in school history.

The final goal was reached in March when UK men’s basketball claimed the Southeastern Conference Tournament title, the 15th championship won by Wildcat athletes since 2008.

Reaching the peaks of the 15 by 15 by 15 Plan didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t happen by accident, either. It was the result of a steady, methodical process which Barnhart began upon his arrival at Kentucky in 2002.

Barnhart started by providing funds for full coaching staffs and scholarship allotments for all 22 UK sports.

Next, Barnhart constructed new facilities, including the Joe Craft Center; new stadiums for track and field, softball and soccer; the UK Golf House; and the Wildcat Coal Lodge dormitory. Currently, Commonwealth Stadium is completing major renovations and a new football practice/ office complex is underway. A new baseball stadium and indoor tennis facility are on the drawing board. All totaled, Barnhart has completed or is in the process of approximately $297 million of facility construction.

Additional achievements have occurred on and off the field under Barnhart’s guidance. UK athletes have set records for graduation rates and maintained a perfect mark in the 11-year history of the NCAA Academic Progress Rate. In the arenas of competition, records have been achieved for winning conference championships and two Wildcat teams -- rifle in 2011 and men’s basketball in 2012 -- have earned national championships.

Even with the department's growth and the increasingly competitive nature of college sports, UK Athletics has remained financially self-sufficient under Barnhart’s management, operating with a balanced budget and with the help of no state or University funds. Seeing pressing facility needs on campus as well, Barnhart has made a $65 million commitment for athletics to fund nearly two-thirds of the new Academic Science Building. He also directs an annual $1.7-million contribution to the University’s scholarship program. Millions more dollars from the athletics budget stay on campus each year through athletic scholarship payments, administrative support payments, merchandise royalties, and other avenues.

The influence of the UK AD extends beyond the borders of campus and the fields of competition. Barnhart has served on numerous national committees and currently is a member of the NCAA Division I Management Council, is chairman of the NCAA Competition Oversight Committee and is on the SEC Network Content Committee.

Barnhart's legacy at UK includes helping develop administrators who have gone on to become athletics directors at nationally prominent universities, including Greg Byrne of Arizona, Mark Coyle at Syracuse, Rob Mullens at Oregon and Scott Stricklin at Mississippi State.

Barnhart arrived at UK from Oregon State, where he served four successful years (1998-2002) as athletics director. Before OSU, he worked in athletics administration posts at Tennessee (1986-98), Southern Methodist University (1983-86), Oregon (1983) and San Diego State (1982-83).

Barnhart is a native of Kansas City, Kan. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Ottawa University (Kansas) in 1981 and a master’s in sports administration from Ohio University.

In addition to the extraordinary achievements of his work world, reaching new heights is also a theme of his personal life. An avid mountain climber, Barnhart has scaled Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, along with two of the most challenging peaks in the United States, Mount Rainier in Washington and the Grand Teton in Wyoming. Active in community service, Barnhart is on the national advisory board of K-Love Radio.

Barnhart’s family includes his wife, Connie; three children, Blaire, Scott, and Kirby Willoughby; Kirby’s husband, McKenzie, and a grandson, Cooper.