Barnhart says SEC, college sports are ‘ever changing’

Published 7:09 am Sunday, September 26, 2021

Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart says adding Oklahoma and Texas to an already potent Southeastern Conference is just part of the “ever changing” college athletics landscape that schools have to learn to adjust to.

“They are remarkable programs and bring incredible resumes to a really deep league,” Barnhart said.  “Our coaches are going ‘Oh boy. It just got tougher.’ But if you win something, it will be incredibly special.”

While the emphasis has been on what impact adding those teams will have on football, both Texas and Oklahoma are strong in a lot of sports just like most SEC teams.

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“It is not lost on those programs (Texas and Oklahoma) that they are walking into a deep league,” Barnhart said. “We have to figure out traveling and scheduling challenges and what does that mean to each team (in different sports).

“You continue to be who you are and not lose the culture of our program. We have to make sure we don’t lose our work ethic and we will be fine.”

Kentucky won national championships in rifle and volleyball last year. The women’s swim team won the SEC title for the first time. Golfer Jensen Castle recently won the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Former and current Cats earned medals at the Tokyo Olympics.

Barnhart noted the longevity overall of head coaches at Kentucky and how that has added to momentum for the UK athletics department.

“You don’t want to get left out. Our programs have championed one another,” Barnhart said. “No one wants to get left out. We are remarkably positioned in many of our sports and I am excited about that. It is about culture and not getting left out of this thing.”