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Kentucky AD Stayed 'Bunkered' While Searching for Coach

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Mitch Barnhart's travel itinerary was one of the most closely guarded secrets in Kentucky the past two weeks.

With the Wildcats' head basketball coaching position vacant, speculation on Internet message boards placed the Kentucky athletic director everywhere from Gainesville, Fla., to East Lansing, Mich., to Austin or College Station, Texas - the homes of coaches on the rumored short list to replace Tubby Smith.

As it turned out, most of Barnhart's travels went something like this: bedroom to bathroom to kitchen to home office.

"I apologize for being bunkered in," Barnhart said. "I just felt like that was the best way to do it. I felt like that was the only way you could get done what you wanted to get done confidentially, and that was important to us."

Other than a brief trip to Atlanta, where he watched the Final Four from a hotel room away from the public spotlight, Barnhart's search for a basketball coach was largely conducted out of his Lexington home.

And, when he finally found one in Texas A&M's Billy Gillispie, that also was where the deal was codified in the wee hours Friday morning. Gillispie spent the night at Barnhart's house before being introduced as the new coach Friday afternoon.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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