Mitchell Signs New Contract Extension Through 2019
May 3, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. – After leading the Kentucky women's basketball team to three straight NCAA tournaments for the first time in school history, including two Elite Eight appearances, UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell has been awarded a new seven-year contract worth approximately $7.95 million with the opportunity for performance-based incentives through the 2019 season, UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart announced Thursday. See attachments for the actual contract along with details of the seven-year deal.
“I’ve been here for 10 years and in that 10-year period of time we’ve watched the growth of our program in women’s basketball in a variety of ways,” Barnhart said. “Matthew was a part of that original growth under the staff of Mickie DeMoss. Then he went and spread his wings a little bit at Morehead State for a couple years before we brought him back. For the past five years he’s led our program and moved us to a spot where arguably we’re talked about on a regular basis as one of the top programs in the country. That’s in large part to his efforts and the efforts of his staff.
“… He has an unbelievable passion for life that is infectious. We’ve seen that in a variety of ways. People can say (he has a) great sense of humor, but it goes beyond that. He appreciates and enjoys being a part of our program and he helps everybody else enjoy it. I had an old boss one day who would say you want to hire people that you want to see come through the door every day and enjoy going to work with them. This is a guy we all enjoy coming to work with every day. We enjoy spending time with him and he makes it better for all of us. We’re very, very blessed to have him in our department from that perspective. … And he and his staff have proven themselves to be top-10 caliber coaches and staff on a national level in a variety of ways. They’ve beaten an awful lot of folks and have proven that it’s not just a one-hit wonder. They have done it over some time here and they have proven they belong. The (SEC) championship for the first time in 30 years at Kentucky in women’s basketball is very, very special to us.”
In five seasons at the helm, Mitchell has led UK to five-straight postseason tournaments, including three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in UK history. He already ranks No. 3 in all-time wins at Kentucky with 114. Mitchell is just the third coach in UK Hoops history to record 100 wins and he earned the milestone in 151 games, becoming the second fastest coach in UK Hoops history to reach 100 victories. His winning percentage of 67.4 percent (114-56) is second best in program history.
The Wildcats ended the 2011-12 season ranked No. 12 in the final AP poll and No. 8 in the final USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll. It marked the highest final AP ranking since finishing 11th in 1983 and the highest final ranking in the coaches’ poll in school history. Mitchell led his team to one of the most successful seasons in school history last year with a 28-7 overall record, including an 18-0 mark at home, and an appearance in the Elite Eight for the second time in three years. The Wildcats won their first Southeastern Conference regular season championship since 1982 with a school-record 13-3 mark in league play. Its 28 wins tied the school record set in 2009-10 and UK has now won 25-plus games for three consecutive seasons for the first time ever.
Mitchell did not go unrecognized for his success, as he was named SEC Coach of the Year by the AP. It was his second SEC Coach of the Year award. He also earned the honor in 2010 by the AP and league coaches.
Ten different players have received SEC accolades in his five seasons, including this year’s SEC Player of the Year A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.), SEC Freshman of the Year Bria Goss (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Co-SEC 6th Woman of the Year Keyla Snowden (Lexington, Ky.).
His players also excel in the classroom as 10 Wildcats have been SEC Academic Honor Roll members and 100 percent of his players (13) in their final season of eligibility have received their degree. Senior Crystal Riley (Memphis, Tenn.) is set to graduate in May 2013 and will be a student coach for the upcoming season.
“This is a very, very happy day for Jenna and me to have a chance to continue as the coach here and for us to have a chance to be a member of this university and to continue to try and serve this university we are very grateful for,” Mitchell said. “What the opportunity really provides us, is to do what we love, which is work with players. That’s the most important thing at Kentucky and that’s the most important part of what we do. Today wouldn’t have been possible without a bunch of kids really, really working hard and giving everything that they’ve had. I just want to thank every player that’s played here in the last five years. … It’s just a complete honor to sign this contract to be here, and for Jenna and I to continue to lead this program and we are real grateful for that.”
UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart and UK Hoops Head Coach Matthew Mitchell – May 3, 2012
UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart’s opening statement…
“I’ve been here for 10 years and in that 10-year period of time we’ve watched the growth of our program in women’s basketball in a variety of ways. Matthew was a part of that original growth under the staff of Mickie DeMoss. Then he went and spread his wings a little bit at Morehead State for a couple years there before we brought him back. For the past five years he’s led our program and moved us to a spot where arguably we’re talked about on a regular basis as one of the top programs in the country. That’s in large part to his efforts and the efforts of his staff. I’m sure he’ll talk about that a little as we go forward.
“Just to reiterate a couple of the things he has accomplished: In the five seasons at Kentucky, he has led us to five straight postseason tournaments, including three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in Kentucky history. He already ranks No. 3 all-time in wins at Kentucky with 114, and is the third coach in (Kentucky) history to earn 100 wins and he has earned the milestone in 151 games, making him the second fastest coach in the history of the program to do that. His 67 percent winning percentage is the second highest in school history at this point. The Wildcats ended the 2011-12 season 12th in the AP poll and eighth in the USA Today Coaches’ poll which is the highest finish in (UK’s) history of the coaches’ poll and the second highest in the AP poll. Obviously we’ve had two Elite Eight appearances in the last three years, 18-0 home mark this year and in the last two years we’re 48-2 at home. I’m not sure there are a lot of folks who have done a whole lot better than that anywhere in the country. If you’ve been coming to women’s basketball games at Kentucky the last few years, you’ve been highly entertained, it’s been fun to watch and (there have been) a lot of victories. So we’re excited about that. In the last three seasons the Wildcats have defeated 16 nationally ranked opponents, including four in the top 10. They’ve been ranked in the top 25 in all of the national polls, garnered top 25 rankings in average attendance and recorded a remarkable 48-2 record at home. I would go on and list all of the players who have earned All-SEC honors, we could go through that but I think you’ve got all that.
“As importantly, it’s what he’s done with the kids. We’re 100 percent during his tenure with kids who have completed their eligibility of graduating them in the classroom.
“Those are the things that are factual and that you know. The thing for us, as a university and as an administration (that) is probably more important than those things we just listed. The beautiful thing about Matthew is that he and his wife, Jenna, and Saylor and Lacy; it is a family. We’re fortunate because they have found a way to weave themselves into the fabric of this women’s basketball program, into the University of Kentucky, into the city of Lexington and the Commonwealth. They’ve become a part of us. That has made it fun. It’s more than women’s basketball. And I appreciate what they have done competitively for us. Clearly, that’s what he gets paid to do. We all understand that piece. What the other thing does is he’s become an ambassador for this university in some very, very unique ways. Some of the things that you don’t see away from the game, the things that he does to support that, is remarkable, it’s enjoyable, and appreciated by so many people in this community. He has high expectations for everybody and not the least of which himself. He expects great things. That’s why you want him leading your program and that’s why we’re fortunate. I think he has an extremely special desire to help young people, and specifically young women, pursue greatness. And he expects them to pursue greatness. It isn’t about being satisfied with OK. He expects greatness. So, we have a few of our women’s basketball players over here and I will tell you, expectations are high. And he expects that of our players and that’s a great thing for us. But he expects them to be great students and he expects them to be really, really good people. We’re fortunate in that.
“And then, a couple other things I will close with before I turn it over to him. He has an unbelievable passion for life that is infectious. We’ve seen that in a variety of ways. People can say (he has a) great sense of humor, but it goes beyond that. He appreciates and enjoys being a part of our program and he helps everybody else enjoy it. I had an old boss one day who would say you want to hire people that you want to see come through the door every day and enjoy going to work with them. This is a guy we all enjoy coming to work with every day. We enjoy spending time with him and he makes it better for all of us. We’re very, very blessed to have him in our department from that perspective. He’s become a very great friend. I enjoy his friendship very, very much. And he and his staff have proven themselves to be top-10 caliber coaches and staff on a national level in a variety of ways. They’ve beaten an awful lot of folks and have proven that it’s not just a one-hit wonder. They have done it over some time here and they have proven they belong. The (SEC) championship for the first time in 30 years at Kentucky in women’s basketball is very, very special to us. Jenna is a huge piece of that and we would like to thank her for all that she’s done for us, and Saylor, keep doing what you’re doing kid. We’re very, very appreciative.
“With having said all that, we’ve put together a seven-year contract for him to be at Kentucky and to continue to lead our program; the details of which you can get in the contract as we get it to you here. He and I both signed off on it and we’re in good shape on that. We’ll get that to you, but we’re really, really proud of what this guy has done for Kentucky – not just women’s basketball. So, without any further adu I will turn it over to the head basketball coach and thank him for what he’s done for us and congratulate him on a job well done and for seven more years we look forward to spending a lot of good time in Memorial Coliseum and postseason play. So, thank you Matthew and congrats.”
UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell opening statement…
“Thanks, Mitch. I really appreciate it and this is a very, very happy day for Jenna and me to have a chance to continue as the coach here and for us to have a chance to be a member of this university and to continue to try and serve this university we are very grateful for.
“We are really grateful for a lot of things today and one of the first places I want to express our gratitude is to God. There have been so many times over the five years where you wonder if it’s going to work out and you wonder if you can make tough decisions and we’ve really gained a lot of strength from God in those times. I just really give God all the glory and the praise today that we’re in this position and I want to make it clear that our faith is a real big part of our life and I just want to extend our gratitude in that way to start things off.
“This administration has made women’s basketball important at Kentucky. It started with Dr. Lee Todd. I just can’t tell you how grateful Jenna and I are to Dr. Todd for giving us this chance and setting us on this course. He has just been such an inspiration to both of us. He has been such great support and he is a great friend. We’ll always been indebted to Dr. Todd that he gave us a chance here at Kentucky and we appreciate that.
“We’re excited about Dr. Capilouto’s leadership. I just think he has an amazing vision for the university and I’m really, really appreciative to work for such a great leader and visionary. So we’re excited about the future there.
“And then the man to my left, Mitch Barnhart. It’s really, really hard – we could spend all afternoon talking about how I feel about him. But I would sum it up with this: There’s no one who I’ve ever been around in this business of college athletics who cares more about people than Mitch Barnhart. That’s somebody that I want to be involved with. That’s somebody that I want to work for. He, in a more sincere way than I’ve ever seen in college athletics, cares about these student-athletes and their experience. He cares about coaches, he cares about support staff and I am very fortunate to call him a friend. And Jenna and I are very, very grateful to Mitch that he is allowing us to continue here as the coach.
“What the opportunity really provides us is to do what we love, which is work with players. That’s the most important thing at Kentucky and that’s the most important part of what we do. Today wouldn’t have been possible without a bunch of kids really, really working hard and giving everything that they’ve had. I just want to thank every player that’s played here in the last five years.
“I just want to make a special mention of that 2009-10 team. That group was picked 11th out of 12 (in the SEC). They, against all odds, really turned this program around and I think if we’re ever able to enjoy sustained success here – and we’re working like heck to get that done – I think you’ll look back on that 2009-10 team as really being a catalyst for change. I wanted to specially mention that group of players.
“Our current players, I am just really privileged to coach. We have a terrific group and we have a terrific group of players that’s coming back. We’re excited for the future and they are giving an awful lot to the university and I want to thank them.
“There’s a lot of support staff here today, a lot of people that are behind the scenes and I appreciate everything that everybody does. We have had some great assistant coaches here. Niya Butts, Vonn Read, Wendy Palmer, I want to especially thank Kyra Elzy, who’s not with us anymore but we accomplished a lot together and I want to thank her for her contributions. It would be impossible for me not to thank Pam Stackhouse today. She served and gave a lot to this program and we would not be in the current place we are without her contributions. I wanted to mention her today, and she’s been real, real important to Kentucky women’s basketball.
“And that leads me to our current staff. Matt Insell, Shalon Pillow, Ukari Figgs, I can’t think of a group of people that I would rather move into the future with than those coaches and support staff. They are high-quality people, high-character people and they are going to help us be very successful.
“The last thing that I will tell you – before I answer questions – is about being at Kentucky are the people that support this university and they are the Big Blue Nation. I go around this town, go in grocery stores, go in restaurants, anywhere in Lexington and out in the Commonwealth, and people have always said to me, ‘Coach, I hope you’re going to stay at Kentucky.’ And they often say that with a tone like they would think there is somewhere better for me to go. That always kind of struck me as funny, because what Mitch Barnhart has done, what the players have done, is for any coach in America, any coach, Kentucky would be a great job. But for Matthew Mitchell, for Jenna Mitchell, and our family, it is the best job; the best job in the country to have. We are so grateful and fortunate to be a part of this and to be a part of this university and this city and to raise our family here.
“Our hearts are full of gratitude. We want to be good citizens here. I called Dr. Capilouto this morning, told him I was grateful for the opportunity and wanted him to know Jenna and I want to give back $100,000 to the university for academic purposes for however Dr. Capilouto sees fit to use those resources. We just want him to know we are partners here, we want to be great servants to the university, and it’s just a complete honor to sign this contract to be here, and for Jenna and I to continue to lead this program and we are real grateful for that.”
On if he was trying to send a message with this contract that may make him the highest paid coach in the SEC…
On assistant coaching changes …
On justifying this size contract on a program that doesn’t operate in the black …
On whether Mr. Barnhart sees a time when women’s basketball operated in the black …
On the ease of the negotiating process …
On possibilities for new assistant coaches …
On the possibility of cynical response by the public to coaches signing and leaving contracts …
On the longevity bonus in the contract …
On whether the success of both the men’s and women’s basketball program is contagious …
On the progression from his salary in 2007 to now and Morehead to this echelon in coaching …
On the portion of the contract calling for the last three years to be negotiated …
On what he plans to buy next with the increased salary …