Barnhart given three-year contract extension, raise



UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart’s contract has been extended three more years on top of his existing five-year contract.

The new deal will keep Barnhart at UK through 2019.

“I want to finish some stuff,” Barnhart said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. “At the end of the day, I don’t think we’ve finished the job, and I want to finish the deal.”

The extension will increase Barnhart’s salary from $475,00 to $600,000, an increase President Lee Todd said was necessary “to remain competitive salary-wise” with other athletic directors in the nation. “It’s something people prize, and we have to pay for it,” Todd said.

Todd introduced Barnhart to a room filled with coaches and media by saying that of the many people on his staff, Barnhart is the person he is “most proud of.”

“I want him as long as he can stay here,” Todd said. “I can’t tell you how good I feel about it. I’m doing a heck of a favor for the next person to be president of this university.”

Todd hired Barnhart nine years ago when the UK was undergoing a NCAA infraction investigation. He said he appreciates Barnhart in part because “he stayed in times it was difficult; he made difficult decisions.”

Despite being received with initial criticism, Barnhart remained at UK.

“We are running a clean, extremely competitive program,” Todd said. “People are finally starting to see the value of having a professional athletic director. He selected individuals for our coaching staff that are par excellence. He’s gotten us into a competitive position in sports we were never competitive in before.”

“We have made progress in a very difficult league,” Barnhart said, citing improved student athlete GPAs, a cleaner athletic program, better facilities, wins, bowl games and attaining the position of one of 14 self-sufficient athletics departments in the nation within his time as athletic director. “Our coaches will tell you it is the most difficult league in the deal.”

“This was a transition place,” Barnhart said, explaining that coaches used to work for UK en route to a more prestigious job. “It has become a place where people make it a destination spot.”

For Barnhart, as well, UK has become a final destination. He said he and his family consider

Lexington to be their home, and UK will be his last athletic directorship school.

“This is the destination in college athletics,” Barnhart said, speaking of his post-contract career plans. “If it’s not athletics, it will be something outside of that.”

Barnhart’s extended contract is scheduled to expire when he is 60 years old. Barnhart said some of his goals for his remaining time are improving facilities including Commonwealth Stadium and Rupp Arena, raising athlete GPAs and enhancing the prestige of the athletic program.

“A lot has happened, but our goals are still the same,” Barnhart said. “We want people be people of character who represent the state of Kentucky well.”

Barnhart also emphasized his commitment to and appreciation for the individual coaches and athletes under his direction.

“I want there to be no doubt that when we leave that all these coaches sitting around this room have what they need to be successful.,” Barnhart said. “I owe that to them. I don’t want to leave them hanging. I don’t want to leave our students athletes hanging, and I don’t want to leave this university in a place where they don’t have what they need to be successful.

VIDEO: Barnhart discusses having enough energy to continue for 8 years, the timing of the job and some of his goals.

Lee Todd on the Barnhart extension: