A divided University of Kentucky Board of Trustees on Tuesday narrowly approved hiring Kirby Willoughby, the daughter of UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart, as a graduate assistant in the athletics department. The trustees voted by voice, and no individual votes were counted. When reporters polled trustees as they left the meeting, eight of the 19 who were present said they voted against the hire. Trustees James Stuckert, Pamela May and Sheila Brothers would not say how they voted.
The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees will be asked Tuesday to approve a graduate assistant job in the athletics department for Kirby Willoughby, the daughter of UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart. UK has an anti-nepotism policy that says no relatives of its administrative leadership team can be employed in a position within the officer's administrative area. However, the director of athletics is not among the positions specifically listed in the policy, which covers the provost, associate provosts, executive vice presidents, vice presidents and associate vice presidents.
Longtime prominent Kentucky sportswriter Billy Reed told University of Kentucky journalism students Monday that UK Athletics did a disservice to the university's mission in recently revoking the student newspaper's access to an invitation-only media event. The panel discussion that also included editors from the student newspaper was to include UK Athletics spokesman DeWayne Peevy, whose actions were at the center of the controversy that has drawn attention from national journalism groups. However, Peevy on Friday canceled his commitment to appear because UK Athletics was holding its weekly football news conference Monday.
The Kentucky Wildcats defeated Central Michigan 27-13 Saturday in their college football season home opener. The Wildcats trailed 13-6 at halftime but sprang to life with three second-half touchdowns, including an 87 yard run by freshman running back Josh Clemons. Kentucky returns to action against U of L Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.
Turfway Park begins its Fall Meet today with reasons to be optimistic about its future. Turfway bucked a national trend with its 2011 Winter/Spring meet which experienced a 6.3 percent increase to on-track handle and a 3.3 percent bump in all-sources wagering. Instant Racing, a slot-machine-style wagering machine based on pari-mutuel wagering, was introduced in the state for the first time at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 2. Turfway Park will wait until outstanding court challenges are resolved before installing the new machines, but they would provide a new revenue source for the racetrack.
The decision of whether to renovate Rupp Arena or build a new home for the Kentucky Wildcats is still far off, but members of the arena task force heard some initial thoughts today from the recently-chosen master planner. Gary Bates of the architecture firm Space Group is familiar with downtown Lexington. He once taught at UK’s College of Design. At today’s meeting of the Arena, Arts and Entertainment District Task Force, Bates said preserving Rupp Arena’s atmosphere is a top priority.
Coaches at the collegiate level have responsibilities that extend beyond instructing players on the x’s and o’s of their specific sport. Coaches are asked to help mold and shape the character of team members. Eastern Kentucky University football coach Dean Hood admits that comes with challenges.
The Kentucky Wildcats opened their 2011 football season with a 14-3 victory over Western Kentucky last night in Nashville. UK notched the win despite struggling offensively for most of the game. Meanwhile, the University of Louisville Cardinals defeated Murray State 21-9 tonight in the football season opener for both teams.
The Eastern Kentucky University Colonels head west to take on a different breed of Wildcat Saturday. Eastern goes up against Big-12 foe Kansas State Saturday night. Kansas State was eight and six last year, beating the likes of UCLA and Texas. EKU finished last season with four straight wins. So, Colonel coach Dean Hood says a ‘huge upset’ is always ‘in play’.
Today, and even the next few weeks, won’t be the measure of success for instant racing at Kentucky Downs, which launched today. It could be a month or more before track officials have a handle on how much interest is generated by the $3 million investment Kentucky Downs made in its facility, according to President Corey Johnsen. With just 200 instant racing terminals and a capacity of about 1,000 people on the first floor of the facility, Johnsen doesn’t want Kentucky Downs to be overrun with patrons until employees have had time to make sure everything is operating smoothly.
In life, Hall of Fame thoroughbred Noor always seemed to play second fiddle to Seabiscuit, both owned by Charles Howard. But Noor finished ahead of Seabiscuit on Tuesday, becoming the first Hall of Fame racehorse to be re-interred at a special memorial garden set up at Old Friends thoroughbred retirement farm in Georgetown.
The University of Louisville Cards open their 2011 football season this evening, hosting Murray State. Second-year coach Charlie Strong says this is a young team, but he’s pleased with how the more experienced players have stepped forward in practice.
The University of Kentucky Athletic Department is again at odds with the school’s newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel. A Kernel reporter called two walk-on basketball players to confirm they were joining the team. Afterward, he reportedly sought further comment, which UK officials say violates the school media guide. It says all requests for comments from players should go through the school’s public relations staff to prevent players from being bombarded by questions.
As a western Kentucky horse track prepares to implement instant racing Thursday, a conservative policy group is announcing its latest attempt to stop the effort. The Family Foundation says Kentucky Downs is violating the state's gambling law by moving forward with instant racing, which allows players to bet on previously run horse races using a video terminal that looks like a slot machine.
The University of Kentucky athletics department engaged in "reprehensible conduct" in revoking the university student newspaper's access to a basketball media event, a national journalism group said Tuesday. The letter from Associated Press Managing Editors to UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart was part of a wave of regional and national criticism heaped upon UK in the wake of a disagreement with the Kentucky Kernel over interview practices.
Kentucky Speedway and state officials unveiled their plans Tuesday to correct the traffic and parking problems experienced at last month’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Speedway Motorsports Inc., the company that owns the Gallatin County track, is investing an estimated $7.5 million. That amount includes the $1.5 million the speedway paid last week to acquire 142 acres of land across Ky. 35 from the track. The added land will allow the speedway to park about 10,000 more cars, general manager Mark Simendinger said. Meanwhile, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet projects it will spend $3.6 million on road improvements to improve access to parking areas at the speedway.
University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong says no one from the NCAA has interviewed assistant coach Clint Hurtt yet regarding allegations of rules violations during Hurtt’s time at the University of Miami. U of L said earlier this month it would comply with a request from the NCAA to talk to Hurtt. He’s named in a Yahoo Sports report on former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, who says he provided improper benefits such as cash, meals and trips to football recruits.