Barnhart at UK

Mitch Barnhart's career at Kentucky

Herald-Leader Staff ReportFebruary 10, 2011 

July 2002: Mitch Barnhart was introduced as UK's athletics director. Barnhart, then 42, had been athletics director at Oregon State since 1998. His starting salary at UK was "at least $375,000 a year."

September 2002: Barnhart extended the contract of football coach Guy Morriss, including changing the buyout clause if Morriss were to leave Kentucky. Morriss left in December 2002 for Baylor.

December 2002: Barnhart hired Rich Brooks as head football coach. Barnhart's own contract was not yet signed. He was criticized for running a secretive and disorganized search, then selecting for a program on NCAA probation a coach with two violations on his résumé. Barnhart stuck with Brooks through three losing seasons, and his faith was rewarded when the coach delivered four consecutive bowl-game appearances for Kentucky.

January 2003: Barnhart signed his first contract. It was a seven-year deal with a base pay of $275,000 plus $100,000 for TV and radio, and possible incentives of up to $150,000 a year. It put him near the top of the pay scale for athletics directors in the Southeastern Conference.

March 2003: Women's basketball coach Bernadette Mattox resigned. Barnhart hired Mickie DeMoss before the end of the month. The selection of DeMoss, Pat Summitt's No. 1 assistant at Tennessee, was well-received.

June 2003: Kentucky named John Cohen its new baseball coach, replacing the retired Keith Madison. Cohen led UK to an SEC co-championship before turning down a 10-year contract offer from Barnhart in 2008 to become head coach at his alma mater, Mississippi State. Barnhart named Gary Henderson as Cohen's replacement.

November 2003: Barnhart's base salary was raised 2.2 percent, to $383,000. That, plus $70,000 in performance bonuses and $39,000 in retirement pay, gave him a hefty jump from the $375,000 package he'd had.

December 2004: Kentucky named Craig Skinner volleyball coach, capping a run of four coaching hires for Barnhart in his first year and a half on the job.

March 2007: Tubby Smith, men's basketball coach since 1997, resigned to move to Minnesota.

April 2007: UK brought in Billy Gillispie from Texas A&M to replace Smith, a hire many have deemed the worst in UK history. Almost from the start, Gillispie was viewed as a bad fit for the program, and Barnhart faced criticism for not conducting a more thorough background check. Gillispie left the school in March 2009 and sued UK Athletics for breach of contract later that year. The $6 million lawsuit was later settled.

April 2007: DeMoss resigned as women's basketball coach. Barnhart replaced her with Matthew Mitchell, a former DeMoss assistant who was head coach at Morehead State. Mitchell led UK to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight in 2010.

December 2007: Barnhart received a five-year contract extension with an annual roll-over clause and a raise to $475,000, plus incentives. "He's been exactly what I wanted," UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. said. "He's done an outstanding job. We're proud that he'll continue to provide his service to our university."

April 2009: Kentucky hired John Calipari as its men's basketball coach. Barnhart again faced difficult questions, given that a Calipari team at UMass had been forced to vacate a Final Four appearance because of NCAA violations. Shortly after Calipari's hiring, his former Memphis team was dealt a similar fate. Calipari was not personally implicated in either case.

January 2010: Kentucky named Joker Phillips as its head football coach after Brooks retired. Phillips, who had been Brooks' "coach in waiting," became the 12th African-American head football coach among the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

December 2010: Barnhart was rumored to be a finalist for the athletics director job at the University of Kansas but said he would not be going to Kansas and planned to stay at UK for the long haul.

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