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Mitch Barnhart says UK basketball needs to return to championship level

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“Our fans deserve that.”

Syndication: The Courier-Journal Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Kentucky Wildcats have been in a little slump when it comes to success in March as they haven’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2019 (granted the 2020 tournament was cancelled) and they haven’t made the Final Four since 2015.

On top of that, if the Kansas Jayhawks pick up a win this week in the Sweet 16, they will officially pass Kentucky in all-time wins.

Since 2015, we have seen some really good teams but for the most part, they haven’t been championship level teams.

On Monday, UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart was on for the final segment of the John Calipari Show as Coach Cal was on the road recruiting.

During the segment, Barnhart made it clear that the fans are hurt, and they should be. He expressed that it is time for Kentucky to get back to the championship level we all expect Kentucky to be at.

“I’ve been here 20 years at Kentucky, and I’ve lived and worked alongside what I consider the greatest fanbase in America. There’s no place that we go that there is not an incredible following of Kentucky fans.

“We go to the Classics in (Las) Vegas, we go to Madison Square Garden, we go to Chicago...it doesn’t matter where we go. There’s an amazing number of people in blue and white there. That’s the reason why, No. 1, we’re invited to participate in a great number of those, because they want our folks to come.

“The second reason is that we’ve got a program that is built for March and built for championships. That is something we take great pride in.”

Kentucky fans know one thing best, and that is winning big when March rolls around. That is something that has been missing in recent years.

“We won the SEC championship three years ago, and then COVID hit and knocked us out, we didn’t have a chance to play it. We’d love to have seen that team continue on. But at the end of the day, we’re built for championships. That’s what this program is all about. It’s about winning SEC championships in the regular season, it’s about SEC titles in the (SEC) tournament, and it’s about championships in March and in early April. Deep runs. That’s what we’re built for.

“We’re supposed to do those things, and we fell short of that this year.”

The basketball program is designed to win in March, and we need to see it return to that championship level.

Kentucky basketball has not been the gold standard in recent years, and it’s time for this program to return to that level.