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Mitch Barnhart named Athletic Director of the Year

Barnhart was previously a finalist for the award in 2015.

NCAA Basketball Tournament Selection Committee Meets In Manhattan Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Mitch Barnhart has overseen one of the best athletics departments in all of college sports, and he’s being honored for it.

On Wednesday, Barnhart was been named Athletic Director of the Year by the Sports Business Journal.

“I am honored and thankful to represent the University of Kentucky in receiving this award,” Barnhart said in a press release. “It’s truly a testament to the incredible work our student-athletes, coaches and staff have done to build a program to make the Big Blue Nation and the Commonwealth proud. I also want to say a special thank you to my wife, Connie, and my entire family for taking this journey with me. We have much work ahead of us though, and we can’t wait to do it.”

Barnhart won the award at the 12th annual Sports Business Awards Wednesday, and it’s based on the judging period of March 1, 2018 to Feb. 28, 2019.

During that time, Kentucky Basketball won the 2018 SEC Tournament, made the Sweet 16 that season, then made the Elite Eight this past season.

Kentucky Football was by far the best story in all of UK Athletics, as the Cats won 10 games for the first time in over four decades.

But it was the rifle team that won the 2018 NCAA championship, marking a banner year for UK sports.

“During Mitch Barnhart’s tenure as Director of Athletics at the University of Kentucky, we have reached unprecedented levels of academic and competitive accomplishment,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “This award recognizes his deep and compelling commitment to students and their personal success, and to the academic mission of the institution. You see that commitment in the program’s strong graduation rate and grade point average.

“Several teams have competed for and won conference and national championships, along with individual titles and recognitions in virtually every sport. And UK Athletics’ financial investment in academic and need-based scholarships and in our instructional facilities is unmatched.

“At each step of the way, he built upon this momentum with respect and integrity. I know I speak for the entire UK family when I offer him our heartfelt congratulations on this well-deserved honor.”