Mitch Barnhart, University of Kentucky Director of Athletics, will be bestowed with the Jim Host Sports Business Award during the Bluegrass Sports Commission annual dinner Wednesday night at the Lexington Convention Center.
Under Barnhart’s guidance, UK Athletics has set records for graduation rates and maintained a perfect mark in the 10-year history of the NCAA Academic Progress Rate. In the arenas of competition, records have been achieved for winning conference championships and two Wildcat teams have earned national championships.
Barnhart came to UK in 2002 and provided funds for full coaching staffs and scholarship allotments for all 22 varsity sports. He also has overseen the construction of the Joe Craft Center; new stadiums for track and field, softball and soccer; the UK Golf House; and the Wildcat Coal Lodge dorm. Commonwealth Stadium is undergoing a $120 million renovation that will transform it into a state-of-the-art facility in the fall of 2015 and Barnhart also is initiating construction of a new $45 million football training center.
The investments have returned major results as Barnhart guided UK to a No. 11 final ranking in the Directors’ Cup national all-sports standings in 2013-14, the highest finish in school history. He also has made a $65 million commitment to help finance the University’s new Academic Science Building and he directs an annual $1.7 million contribution to the University’s scholarship program.
“This kind of recognition for Mitch Barnhart is long overdue,” said Jim Host, for whom the award is named. “The job he has done at UK in building all sports is one of the best in the country. Nothing means more in sports business to the Bluegrass than UK’s athletic teams. Now, they all have a real chance to win with great facilities to compete in, which is all as a result of the job Mitch has done as AD.”
Barnhart joins previous winners Alan Stein, Jerry Carroll and Ted Bassett as the Jim Host Sports Business Award recipients.