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Mitch Barnhart gets contract extension that includes a unique retirement option

It’s a similar option that John Calipari has in his contract.

Mitch Barnhart is against a 9-game SEC schedule in football.
Mitch Barnhart is against a 9-game SEC schedule in football.

University of Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart has been one of the most successful athletics directors in the country during his time with the Kentucky Wildcats, and he is going to be sticking around for a while.

On Friday, Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio reported that the University of Kentucky has extended Barnhart’s contract through June of 2028.

In Barnhart’s 22-year tenure, the University has earned six championships, including men’s basketball in 2012, volleyball in 2020, and rifle in 2011, 2018, 2021, and 2022.

On top of that, the school has totaled 54 regular-season and conference tournament championships during his tenure.

Barnhart is the second-longest tenured AD among Power Five schools, behind just Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione.

He has served on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Committee for five years and currently serves on the Selection Committee for the College Football Playoff.

One interesting note, LEX18 released the details of the contract as well as comments from Barnhart and UK president Eli Capilouto.

However, in the contract, Barnhart has the option to step down beginning July 1, 2026, with six months’ notice and assume the position of special assistant to the president for two years at a reduced annual salary of $800,000.

It’s a similar option that John Calipari has in his contract, which allows him to retire and become a special assistant to the athletics director/university representative.

“We have, in my judgment, the nation’s best athletics director,” said Capilouto via LEX18. “Continuing that leadership at such a critical juncture and ensuring ongoing stability amidst so much change is the right thing to do for UK Athletics. It’s the right thing to do for the University of Kentucky.”

“I am deeply appreciative of the faith in me expressed by President Capilouto and the university,” said Barnhart via LEX18. “It is an honor to represent this university and state and to guide our athletics department through a period of such consequential change in college athletics.”