In his 11th year as Kentucky's athletic director, Mitch Barnhart has seen his ups and downs in Lexington and now is definitely one of those upswings. The basketball program has become a machine in every sense of the word, and the football program is (slowly) in the initial stages of its climb out of the SEC cellar. With a staff that's shown the ability to reel in players and a much-needed renovations coming to Commonwealth Stadium, Barnhart believes 2015 will be the year Kentucky returns to the mix in the nation's toughest conference.
But that's not what Barnhart really likes to talk about, nor is it why he got into college athletics over 30 years ago after earning his Master's degree at Ohio. Barnhart got into the business because he loves helping young people succeed and, in a recent interview with Louisville's WDRB-TV, he said his generation has dropped the ball on molding today's athletes into complete people.
"I'm fascinated when I go talk some place and they say 'Can you believe these kids today, how bad they are? Can you believe that kid did that? Can you believe they're acting like that?' Who taught them? Who do you think they learned it from? They learned it from my generation, okay, so it's our fault. We've really been bad teachers."
"We've done a horrible job of mentoring young people because we've told them greed is good, selfish is better and being prideful people is really important. Marriages don't count anymore. If we expect a different result we'd better help them understand what it's supposed to look like and we better show them what we want them to do. And we're not going to be able to show it to them through social media. Now that may be an avenue or a tool but we'd better get relational with the young people in today's world because we don't want to have a lost generation or two or three, or we're going to find ourselves in a place we don't want to be.
"As much as anything else, that's what this job is about for me. It's about helping young people get to a spot where they can raise their families, be really, really good citizens at what they want to do, become people of character."
(Fast forward to around the 3:25 mark for the good stuff.)