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Two Decades Of Culture Building With Kentucky’s Mitch Barnhart

Guest Mitch Barnhart, Kentucky
19:08 min watch


Kentucky Athletics Director and 2022 NFF John L. Toner Award recipient Mitch Barnhart sits down with ADU’s Bryan Fischer at the 2022 SBJ Intercollegiate Athletics Forum to reflect on his decades in the industry and the importance of building culture as the foundation of departmental success. Barnhart discusses how he relied on culture to make a successful football hire while at Oregon State, the value of mentoring younger staffers, why he believes Kentucky’s family-friendly environment has led to its long-term success and how he’s navigating the current pace of change in college athletics.

The conversation is indexed below for efficient viewing (click the time stamp to jump to a specific question/topic).

  • - You're being honored with the NFF John L. Toner Award - is this a fun weekend for you?
  • - What were some of the mentorships that shaped you into the leader you are today?
  • - How did you approach your initial athletic director position, especially making the cultural transition from Tennessee to Oregon State?
  • - What led you to hiring Coach Erickson while at Oregon State and what made you certain that he would have success there?
  • - What did you have to do your first couple of years in Lexington to reset the culture of the department?
  • - How are you ensuring that you and your department provide the right mentorship and growth opportunities for your staff? 
  • - How do you navigate the pace of change within the college athletics landscape and your own department?
  • - When it comes to your high-profile sports, do you have to pay extra attention to your head coaches to ensure you're all on the same page?
  • - Is this period of change energizing for you?