By LARRY VAUGHT
One day after athletics director Mitch Barnhart announced that Kentucky would not allow general alcohol sales at UK sporting events next season or any time in the near future, Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops was asked about his thoughts on the decision.
“The only thing I’ll say is I have great confidence in the leadership, Dr. Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart, their decisions. It’s above my pay grade,” Stoops said at UK’s Media Day Friday. ” I don’t put a lot of thought into that because it’s just not my job.
“But I trust them. I believe in their leadership. Those are hard decisions. I think there’s strong opinions on both sides. They obviously put a lot of thought into it. There’s a lot for them to consider. I’ll just say it’s just hard.”
Then Stoops touched on what probably had a big impact on Barnhart’s decision. The UK coach remember it was “very difficult for me and our team” to attend the funeral of 4-year-old Marco Shemwell last year. He was hit by a car waiting to cross the street after leaving Kroger Field and died. The driver was charged with driving intoxicated.
“Anything that revolved around the game, drinking, having an accident like that happen, was very heartfelt for me personally, and the team,” Stoops said. “But Mitch and Dr. Capilouto I have a lot of confidence in. I’m sure they thought things through, are doing the very best they can, I know that.
“I can promise you that I don’t want any reason or any excuse for there not to be a fantastic atmosphere right out here in the stadium, Kroger Field this year. We have a very good football team that’s worked very hard. Proud of the work we’ve done to this point. We’re very excited about the future.”
Stoops then made a passionate plea for fans to support the team like they have in the past — and apparently plan to continue to do based on the big turnout at Fan Day Saturday.
“Greatly appreciate the fan support. We truly have the best fans in the country. There’s nothing better than when we walk out there and see that full stadium. We need it that way every week,” Stoops said. “My plea to the fans is we need that. It takes all of us all the time.
“We need that support, need that place rocking. It makes a difference with recruiting, makes a difference with our team. We’re all a part of that.”