Mitch Barnhart has signed a five-year
contract extension that will likely keep him as Kentucky's
athletics director at least through 2012.
The agreement, which President Lee Todd Jr. announced Thursday
to the University of Kentucky's Athletic Association board, calls
for an annual base salary of $475,000. His previous contract was
last renewed in 2005 and set to expire in 2009.
The new deal eliminates a clause that had required a buyout if
Barnhart left for another AD job before the end of his term.
Instead, it provides a $50,000 longevity bonus beyond his salary
for each year he stays.
Barnhart said he has no plans to leave, particularly now that
some of the sports programs, including football and baseball, have
achieved success under his watch.
"If you're ever going to run from something, you'd probably run
from it when it was darkest," Barnhart said. "My first two or
three years here were really hard. We're still here, enjoying what
we're doing. I think we've shown we want to be loyal to the
Todd and Barnhart said they had been working on the deal five
months. Barnhart's name has surfaced recently for some AD
vacancies, including the University of Washington's job, but he
said he never gave serious thought to leaving Kentucky.
"If you're in this industry long enough, your name is going to
pop up lots of places," he said.
Barnhart's salary calls for a modest raise but rolls into his
annual base pay several incentives that encouraged him to raise the
level of some of the non-revenue sports. Todd said he has done that
consistently and deserves the guaranteed money.
"He has been exactly what I was wanting," Todd said. "He's
done what he has done in an extremely professional, right way."
The 20-page contract does provide Barnhart certain performance
incentives based on the success of teams, such as a Final Four trip
for the basketball team or bowl appearance for the football team.
At Barnhart's request, the coaches are guaranteed at least as much
money as Barnhart for those achievements.
"To be honest with you, it became a little bit of a distraction
publicly," he said. "Every time one of our teams did well, they
would say, 'Well, the only reason why he cares whether they do well
or not is because he's rewarded.' That got to be a little bit
burdensome, and a little bit of a pain to listen to."
Barnhart, a native of Kansas City, Kan., became Kentucky's AD in
2002 after serving four years in the same job at Oregon State.
Since 2005, men's basketball, women's tennis, men's golf and
baseball have won at least one Southeastern Conference championship
- the first ever for the baseball team. The football team has
reached the Music City Bowl for two straight years.