Mitch Barnhart

Now in his second decade as Director of Athletics at the University of Kentucky, Mitch Barnhart is one of the foremost leaders in collegiate athletics.

Mitch has served as Chair of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee, was named “Athletic Director of the Year” by SportsBusiness Journal (2019), and received the Sports Business Award from the Bluegrass Sports Commission (2015).

Mitch’s leadership is founded on the core values of character, integrity, knowledge, stewardship and competitiveness. His commitment to growth and excellence extends beyond athletics, as demonstrated by his department’s record-setting cumulative grade-point average (3.534 in 2020), and their unprecedented dedication to community service (more than 4,000 hours annually).

Prior to joining the University of Kentucky in 2002, Mitch served four successful years (1998-2002) as athletics director at Oregon State. Prior to that, he worked in athletics administration posts at Tennessee (1986-98), Southern Methodist University (1983-86), Oregon (1983) and San Diego State (1982-83).

Mitch is a native of Kansas City, Kansas. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Ottawa University (Kansas) in 1981 and a master’s in sports administration from Ohio University.

In addition to the extraordinary achievements of his work world, reaching new heights is also a theme of his personal life. An avid mountain climber, Mitch has scaled Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, along with two of the most challenging peaks in the United States – Mount Rainier in Washington and the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. He has also twice performed tandem parachute jumps with the Army Golden Knights. 

Mitch and his wife, Connie, have three children and four grandchildren, and actively serve and support the Christian Student Fellowship and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Mitch has a long history with Educational Media Foundation and is excited to be serving on the Board of the multi-generational, multi-cultural, multi-platform media ministry.

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