Mark Story

A significant achievement for Mitch Barnhart at UK

Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart presided over a department that finished 10th in the 2016-17 Learfield Directors’ Cup standings. It is UK’s best showing ever in the measurement of overall athletics’ strength.
Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart presided over a department that finished 10th in the 2016-17 Learfield Directors’ Cup standings. It is UK’s best showing ever in the measurement of overall athletics’ strength.

Fast-break points from the umpire appreciation association:

21. Mitch Barnhart. The Kentucky athletics director had a pretty nice Thursday.

20. Directors’ Cup. The final standings of the Learfield Directors’ Cup — a measure of the overall success of athletics departments based on NCAA postseason success in all sports — were released Thursday. UK finished 10th in the nation, the best finish for Kentucky ever.

19. Second in the SEC. Among Southeastern Conference schools, only third-place Florida was ahead of UK. Second among SEC schools is another best for Kentucky.

18. Louisville strong, too. U of L finished 26th in the Directors’ Cup, also the best showing ever for Tom Jurich’s athletics department.

17. Cats over Cards again. From the 2006-07 school year through 2010-11, Louisville finished ahead of Kentucky in the Directors’ Cup four times in five years. UK has turned the tables since, and now has finished ahead of U of L six years in a row.

16. Every sport but one scores. Of Kentucky’s 22 varsity sports, women’s soccer was the only one that did not score Directors’ Cup points in 2016-17. That program will have a new head coach in the 2017-18 school year.

15. UK wants more. A stated goal for UK Athletics is to finish in the top five of the Directors’ Cup standings by 2022. To do that, Kentucky will probably have to start winning team national championships. Each of this year’s top five — Stanford, Ohio State, Florida, Southern California and North Carolina — claimed at least one team NCAA title.

14. Other Kentucky schools. Murray State finished 130th in Directors’ Cup points, followed by Western Kentucky (155th), Northern Kentucky (213th) and Eastern Kentucky (248th).

13. Lindsey Wilson. Last year, Lindsey Wilson became the first Kentucky school at any level to win the Directors’ Cup when it captured the top spot in NAIA.

12. The title defense. In 2016-17, Lindsey Wilson came close to a repeat but finished second behind Oklahoma City.

11. Mitchell Robinson. According to, the incoming Western Kentucky freshman will be the top pro prospect in the commonwealth this winter. The 7-footer is projected to go 12th in the 2018 NBA Draft, ahead of Kentucky’s Hamidou Diallo (14th) and Nick Richards (22nd).

10. Rick Stansbury. Of Robinson, the WKU head coach says, “I’ve known Mitchell a long time, and he’s got some areas of his game that we need to develop. But the two things he will have going for him from day one, Mitchell can really run and he can really jump.”

9. WKU’s secret weapon? Don’t sleep on Western’s Lamonte Bearden, a transfer from Buffalo who sat out last year. The 6-foot-3 guard led Buffalo in scoring (13.7 ppg) and assists (4.2) in 2015-16.

8. All “A” Classic future. After the state government’s surprise announcement that the basketball arena at the Frankfort Convention Center will be demolished, Kentucky’s small-school state basketball tournament is frantically searching for a new home.

7. Stan Steidel. Long the driving force behind the event, Steidel says All “A” organizers have talked with arenas in Pikeville, Corbin and Owensboro as well as Eastern Kentucky University and Northern Kentucky University about possibly becoming the site of the small-school hoops tourneys.

6. Alltech Arena? Steidel said there have not been discussions about moving the All “A” to the 5,500-seat Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park.

5. D-day for All “A.” The final decision on where the tournaments will be played will be made Aug. 12 at an All “A” Classic board meeting, Steidel says.

4. Kentucky-Indiana All-Star Game future. Apparently, there is one. Paul Laurence Dunbar boys’ basketball coach Scott Chalk took over as game director in the commonwealth this year for the annual summer all-star hoops series between the best boys’ and girls’ seniors from Kentucky and Indiana.

3. Time to end it? After years of flagging attendance, it has seemed that the Kentucky-Indiana All-Star series might qualify as a good thing that has run its course. “I might have said that, too, before this year,” Chalk said.

2. Worth fighting to keep. Says Chalk: “I feel like I learned some things this year that make me think if we make some changes, there can still be a future for the series.”

1. The umpire as hero. If you have not read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story about major-league baseball umpire John Tumpane preventing a woman from committing suicide Wednesday afternoon on the Roberto Clemente Bridge, do yourself a favor and find it.

Read it, and you may never boo an umpire again.