Athletics on pace to meet top-15 plans


UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart introduces UK head coach Joker Phillips at a news conference. Photo by Adam Wolffbrandt

Just two years after UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart first presented his goal of winning 15 conference and national championships across the athletic department by 2015, the athletics department is already seeing the results of his initiative.

Another of Barnhart’s goals was to have the UK athletic department rank in the top 15 of the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup rankings by 2015. UK was ranked 13th in the most recent release of the standings after finishing 34th last year.

The athletic department has never finished higher than 26th in the Directors’ Cup rankings. The final standings for the year are released on July 1.

UK has won four championships in the last two years. The UK rifle team has won its conference championship in each of the last two seasons, and the men’s basketball team won both the regular season and conference championships this season in the first campaign under head coach John Calipari. Those championships put the athletic department ahead of schedule to win 15 championships by 2015.

“We had set our sights on being top 15 in all sports by the year 2015,” Barnhart said in a UK athletics news release. “This would obviously accelerate that pace, which pleases me greatly in that it means our teams, specifically our coaches and athletes, have really done some special things so far this year.”

The UK Athletics Association Board of Directors and the UK athletics Finance Committee will meet Monday afternoon. They are expected to discuss the Finance Committee’s report and the athletic director’s report.