There are a handful of athletic director openings around the country but you can probably cross off Mitch Barnhart from any of their shortlists.
The Lexington Herald-Leader is reporting that the Kentucky has quietly inked Barnhart to a new contract that includes a significant raise to keep him at the school through at least 2023 and a further option to make it a full six-year deal through 2024.
“Now, more than ever, a sense of stability, continuity and absolute trust in leadership is essential in college athletics,” university President Eli Capilouto said in a statement to the paper.
The new deal will go into effect on Sunday at the start of the new fiscal year and will see Barnhart make a new base salary of $925,000. Bonuses should push that over the seven-figure mark and the base will rise to as much as $1.175 million in the final year.
Barnhart has been at the school since 2002 and, while basketball gets an oversized amount of attention with the Wildcats, has certainly pushed to bring along the football program at UK. Since his arrival, he’s notably hired Mark Stoops and helped bring along a a $126 million stadium renovation and a $45 million football facility.
As a result, it’s safe to say that Kentucky leadership is happy with their AD given the buyout terms the Herald-Leader reports:
The amended contract also includes some hefty penalties for UK if the athletics director is terminated without cause, including paying him $950,000 — on top of his base salary for the remainder of the deal — if he’s fired before 2019. After that, he’d get an additional $550,000 plus his base salary if Barnhart were to be fired without cause.
Given those terms, it’s a little more understandable why the school didn’t publicize the extension more even if they’re quite happy at the work Barnhart has done over the years.