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Is Barnhart Getting the Job Done?

Well, despite the fact that I researched this post back over the weekend in response to this article over at the SB Nation's UCLA site, Bruin Nation, other priorities have forced me to be a Johnny-come-lately to the subject.

What I am talking about is the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (which I will henceforth abbreviate as NACDA in response to the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome I got typing it the first time), which is a yearly measurement of the success of athletic programs throughout the nation.  At the end of the athletic year in June, they award what is called the "Director's Cup" for the best overall college athletics program in the country.  Obviously, we will be looking at this from the standpoint of the University of Kentucky in general, and Mitch Barnhart, the UK Athletics Director in particular.

For more very helpful background on this, please have a look at Mike's post at Card Chronicle.  In it, you will see a direct comparison between Louisville and UK since 1993.  What we will do, however, is look at Kentucky in comparison with some other major universities with respect to the NACDA Director's Cup, primarily ones that we might reasonably consider our rivals and peers, and see how we look to be doing per athletic dollar spent. To wit:

School Year 2003 – 2004 2004 – 2005 2005 – 2006 2006 – 2007 Average
Florida DC Final position 6 6 5 6 5.75
North Carolina DC Final position 8 9 4 3 6
Duke DC Final position 18 5 8 11 10.5
Tennessee DC Final position 14 8 14 7 10.75
UK DC Final position 45 35 33 45 39.5
UL DC Final position 106 50 54 28 59.5

Notice that I am looking at only the past 4 years, those of Barnhart's tenure as athletic director.  Now, a reasonable person might suggest that 4 years is far to short a time to grade an AD, and I might agree, but that is what we have.  It will be, at the very least, instructive to see how Kentucky's athletic department has performed during his tenure with respect to the measurements used in the Director's Cup.

Let's take a look at school athletic department expenditures. These may be found at the excellent Mid-Majority website. Crunching the numbers for the various schools I have examined, we will look at the 2006 athletic expenditures of each.  I have then ranked the schools by expenditures, highest to lowest, and calculated the cost of each position point on a dollar/point basis:

School Athletic Expenditures (US$) 2006 School Year Rank Average Director's cup position $$ Per Position
Florida $78,177,776.00 1 5.75 $797,933.10
Tennessee $66,165,792.00 2 10.75 $687,688.38
UK $57,137,604.00 3 39.5 $663,684.23
North Carolina $53,753,892.00 4 6 $549,140.48
Duke $49,802,048.00 5 10.5 $517,140.10
UL $45,109,660.00 6 59.5 $570,652.27

Instructive, is it not?  You would have to say that based on the last 4 years, North Carolina and Duke are getting an outstanding value for their athletic dollars spent.  UK and U of L, not so much.  Florida and Tennessee, even less so.

Obviously, with U of L reaching high to 28th this year and UK sinking back to 45th, and given the fact that U of L has a $13 M fewer dollars expended in athletics, U of L no doubt got a much bigger bang for their buck this year.  Also note that my figures don't take into account the change in athletic budgets over those years, so I am making an assumption that their relationships have been relatively constant.  That assumption may not be correct, and the impact on the figures could be significant.

I think the lesson to be learned from all this is that UK has a long way to go to provide the value for our athletic dollar that some of our peers have, particularly UNC and Duke University.  Is Barnhart giving us our money's worth?  Maybe, but he certainly has a lot of opportunities for improvement.  To be fair, though, Barnhart is fairly new to the job, and hopefully, his best years are before him.

[editor's note, by Truzenzuzex]  I just realized that I should explain the methodology I used in reaching the monetary amounts above.  Originally, I considered only universities in the top 100 in the director's cup standings, and subtracted their average position from 100, then divided their expenditures by that number.

Perhaps a better way to do it would be to consider all 284 universities.  So what I did in the updated table above was this:  I subtracted their average position from the total number of schools (284) and divided the result by the total number of schools, thereby giving a percentage.  I multiplied that percentage by 100, giving a whole number that would reflect that percentage (i.e. .95 = 95 points).  The new table more accurately reflects the expenditures per position.

The larger divisors in this table work out more favorably for U of L and less so for Kentucky, because it brings the divisors closer together and U of L's smaller budget shows better.  It also makes Duke's overall numbers even more impressive due to the same effects as U of L.

I wasn't trying to disrespect Duke or U of L in my initial table, I just find it easier to work with round numbers.  But I think this table better represents reality.