By LARRY VAUGHT
A recent ranking that put Kentucky’s Mitch Barnhart among the Southeastern Conference’s worst athletic directors didn’t go over well with a lot of Kentucky fans.
That included Allison Elmore Tamme, the wife of former UK all-SEC tight end Jacob Tamme.
“Mr. Barnhart is an incredible man of integrity, compassion, heart and intelligence. He invites one of our Swings for Soldiers families into his (football stadium) suite every year with his own family and treats them like they are also,” Tamme said. “ I could write a novel about all of the wonderful things he has done in the 17 years we have known him, but I will stop there.”
Kentucky fan Paul Corio posted on Facebook that he thought Barnhart was one of the “nation’s best” athletic directors.
“He has improved virtually every sport at UK, Football, basketball, baseball, track and field, women’s basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer, raising many of them from the doldrums of being perennial losers or also-rans to being highly competitive in the conference and in most cases nationally,” Corio posted
“Under Barnhart, basketball took a step up from its already lofty heights with the Calipari hire, and the rest of the sports I named — none of which which were competing for SEC or national championships prior to his hiring — are all are now competing for conference championships with many of those sports producing All-American athletes and National Championship contending teams.”
Katie Reeves is a Kentucky fan living in Alabama who says putting Barnhart only 12th among SEC athletic directors is a “terrible take” for any rating system.
“I would argue that he learned from his mistakes with Gillespie and Joker hires — obviously since Cal and Stoops are without a doubt two of the best UK has ever had. But more than anything — I will never forget the video I saw of him a few years ago out wiping off wet bleachers at the baseball stadium after a rain delay,” she said.
“What other AD from any program is out getting his hands dirty to help make sure the fans have a good experience? Class act. And it’s stuff like that which makes him priceless.”