Barnhart signs contract extension at Kentucky
February 11, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart is sticking around to finish what he started.
Barnhart signed a contract extension with the school that will keep him on campus through 2019 and boost his annual salary to $600,000.
The university hired Barnhart, 51, in 2002 with Kentucky's football program on NCAA probation for recruiting violations.
Now in his ninth year with the program, Barnhart has kept his department out of major NCAA trouble and has made many high-impact coaching hires, such as men's basketball coach John Calipari, football coach Rich Brooks and women's basketball coach Matthew Mitchell.
Barnhart said he's looking forward to the next eight years so he can "finish the deal" on many of his department's goals, including facility updates. Among his highest priorities, he said, is a facelift to Commonwealth Stadium.
He also said he will continue working with the city toward deciding between renovating Rupp Arena or building a new arena altogether, although there is no timetable.
"We're the gold standard of college basketball, and we've got to make sure our facilities have the gold-standard look to them," Barnhart said. "What that means for the University of Kentucky, we'll find out hopefully very quickly."
Kentucky President Lee Todd, who announced the extension Wednesday, is retiring at the end of the 2010-11 academic year after serving as president for 10 years. He said he wanted to extend Barnhart's contract for "two or three years now," but he made it a priority before leaving office in June.
"I'm doing a heck of a favor for the next president of this university, and don't think I'm not," Todd said.
Barnhart, a native of Kansas City, Kan., was rumored to be a candidate to be Kansas University's athletic director when the position opened in 2010. Barnhart said he never seriously considered leaving Kentucky.
"We're from there and there was a lot of chatter from folks back home, but that's all it was: chatter," he said.
Calipari, whom Barnhart made the highest paid college basketball coach in the country when he lured Calipari away from Memphis in 2009, said he takes "great comfort" in knowing Barnhart will remain with the Wildcats.