The following is the text of Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart's opening statement from his press conference.
Barnhart fired Billy Gillispie on Friday.
Hello everyone, thanks for coming on short notice. During my tenure here at Kentucky, I have watched and appreciated the passion Kentucky fans have for our basketball program. This is a cradle-to-grave love; it is deeply rooted and creates a sense of pride across the Commonwealth. Kentucky basketball influences when weddings are held and causes its followers to get in a car and drive 12 hours to Omaha on a Monday night. I also understand this rich and proud basketball program belongs to the people of Kentucky and its millions of fans around the world. Coach (Adolph) Rupp started something that is now bigger than any one person. Coaches, players and administrators get the privilege of serving this program simply as caretakers for a brief moment in its history. I will continue to maintain the principles we have established since coming here, most importantly ensuring the quality of the student-athlete experience. It is my responsibility to ensure that the University of Kentucky continues to be a special place in the hearts and minds of our fans across the nation, and that the right pieces are in place to return the basketball program to a championship level and continue those proud traditions of success.
This is not a place I thought we would be at this point, or one that I would want to be. However, after long and deliberate discussions, President (Lee T.) Todd and I have decided we must charter a new direction for the University of Kentucky men’s basketball program. Unfortunately there are times when a situation and the people involved do not create the right chemistry or right fit. It is our belief that is where we are and where we find ourselves with Kentucky basketball today. For that reason, we decided to not bring Coach Gillispie back to lead our men’s basketball program. We firmly believe that moving in a different direction will be in the best interest of everyone involved with this program. It is my responsibility, and I understand that, to hire the coaches, a coach that embraces the fans and the national attention at Kentucky and is committed to the principles of our program. The University of Kentucky and its dedicated and passionate fans deserve a coach that understands that this is not just another coaching job. We obviously did not achieve the results we all desired on the floor this season. Those results can occur when you are trying to grow a program, we clearly understand that. However, it is as important to represent the Kentucky program and the basketball program, more specifically, in a manner which best utilizes our incredible tradition, assets and platform.
It is my evaluation that we have not done all we can to manage the entire scope of the program and all that we expect. There is a clear difference in how the rules and responsibilities overseeing the program are viewed. It is a gap that I do not believe can be solved by just winning games. It is a philosophical disparity that I do not believe can be repaired and again, the chemistry is just not right. These situations are always very difficult and individuals and their families are traumatically impacted. I’m sorry for that. I would like to thank Coach Gillispie and his staff for the effort they gave the last two years. Billy has a great passion for the game of basketball and I truly wish him and his staff the best in the future.
So now we must move forward. We will share some of the details of the search process as they develop and as we can. We understand the challenge and importance of finding our next caretaker for this very special basketball program. It is to be done with great concern for the welfare and image of the student-athletes, administration and students of the University of Kentucky, its fans and the people of the Commonwealth. Like everyone else who loves this program, we desire for Kentucky basketball to be a part of the championship picture every year; that is our goal. We will work to that end while representing the University of Kentucky with pride and professionalism. Thanks and I’d be glad to answer a few questions…”