LEXINGTON, Ky. – After leading the Kentucky women's basketball team to three straight NCAA tournaments for the first time in school history, including two Elite Eight appearances, UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell has been awarded a new seven-year contract worth approximately $7.95 million with the opportunity for performance-based incentives through the 2019 season, UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart announced Thursday. See attachments for the actual contract along with details of the seven-year deal.
“I’ve been here for 10 years and in that 10-year period of time we’ve watched the growth of our program in women’s basketball in a variety of ways,” Barnhart said. “Matthew was a part of that original growth under the staff of Mickie DeMoss. Then he went and spread his wings a little bit at Morehead State for a couple years before we brought him back. For the past five years he’s led our program and moved us to a spot where arguably we’re talked about on a regular basis as one of the top programs in the country. That’s in large part to his efforts and the efforts of his staff.
“… He has an unbelievable passion for life that is infectious. We’ve seen that in a variety of ways. People can say (he has a) great sense of humor, but it goes beyond that. He appreciates and enjoys being a part of our program and he helps everybody else enjoy it. I had an old boss one day who would say you want to hire people that you want to see come through the door every day and enjoy going to work with them. This is a guy we all enjoy coming to work with every day. We enjoy spending time with him and he makes it better for all of us. We’re very, very blessed to have him in our department from that perspective. … And he and his staff have proven themselves to be top-10 caliber coaches and staff on a national level in a variety of ways. They’ve beaten an awful lot of folks and have proven that it’s not just a one-hit wonder. They have done it over some time here and they have proven they belong. The (SEC) championship for the first time in 30 years at Kentucky in women’s basketball is very, very special to us.”
In five seasons at the helm, Mitchell has led UK to five-straight postseason tournaments, including three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in UK history. He already ranks No. 3 in all-time wins at Kentucky with 114. Mitchell is just the third coach in UK Hoops history to record 100 wins and he earned the milestone in 151 games, becoming the second fastest coach in UK Hoops history to reach 100 victories. His winning percentage of 67.4 percent (114-56) is second best in program history.
The Wildcats ended the 2011-12 season ranked No. 12 in the final AP poll and No. 8 in the final USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll. It marked the highest final AP ranking since finishing 11th in 1983 and the highest final ranking in the coaches’ poll in school history. Mitchell led his team to one of the most successful seasons in school history last year with a 28-7 overall record, including an 18-0 mark at home, and an appearance in the Elite Eight for the second time in three years. The Wildcats won their first Southeastern Conference regular season championship since 1982 with a school-record 13-3 mark in league play. Its 28 wins tied the school record set in 2009-10 and UK has now won 25-plus games for three consecutive seasons for the first time ever.
Mitchell did not go unrecognized for his success, as he was named SEC Coach of the Year by the AP. It was his second SEC Coach of the Year award. He also earned the honor in 2010 by the AP and league coaches.
Ten different players have received SEC accolades in his five seasons, including this year’s SEC Player of the Year A’dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.), SEC Freshman of the Year Bria Goss (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Co-SEC 6th Woman of the Year Keyla Snowden (Lexington, Ky.).
His players also excel in the classroom as 10 Wildcats have been SEC Academic Honor Roll members and 100 percent of his players (13) in their final season of eligibility have received their degree. Senior Crystal Riley (Memphis, Tenn.) is set to graduate in May 2013 and will be a student coach for the upcoming season.
“This is a very, very happy day for Jenna and me to have a chance to continue as the coach here and for us to have a chance to be a member of this university and to continue to try and serve this university we are very grateful for,” Mitchell said. “What the opportunity really provides us, is to do what we love, which is work with players. That’s the most important thing at Kentucky and that’s the most important part of what we do. Today wouldn’t have been possible without a bunch of kids really, really working hard and giving everything that they’ve had. I just want to thank every player that’s played here in the last five years. … It’s just a complete honor to sign this contract to be here, and for Jenna and I to continue to lead this program and we are real grateful for that.”