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.
What once was a sleepy resort on U.S. 31-W at the edge of Edmonson and Barren counties is quickly making a bang in the gun world and having an economic influence on the region. Park Mammoth Resort and its Rockcastle Shooting Center are on the radar of gun enthusiasts from across the country - and even the world, as evidenced by the AR15.com Rockcastle 3-Gun Pro-Am Championship held over the weekend. The match drew three major outdoors cable channels and interest from bloggers and Internet radio. Nearly 500 professional and amateur shooters from 43 states and four countries participated in the event.
High schools in Kentucky are protected with certain procedures to prevent and respond to concussions in high school sports. But when it comes to middle and elementary schools, decisions are left to local jurisdictions. “The high schools in our state have us to make rules, the middle schools and other levels don’t have anyone making those rules,” said Julian Tackett, commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.
Georgetown College Director of Athletics Brian Evans announced the new head men’s basketball coach Thursday afternoon. Four-year Tiger assistant to Happy Osborne, Chris Briggs, will immediately assume the leadership position. Briggs also served as a graduate assistant and student manager for UK coach Tubby Smith.
Bell County school officials have ended the tradition of having a minister lead prayer over the public-address system before high school football games because of a complaint from a Wisconsin-based group that promotes the separation of church and state. Friday's home game against Lexington Catholic was the first in decades that didn't include a prayer before the game, said Bell County Superintendent George Thompson.
LEXINGTON – The University of Kentucky women’s basketball team is set to face a 2011-12 schedule that features three nonconference opponents who finished last year ranked in the top 20, 18 home games – including one in Rupp Arena – and a pair of games on ESPN2, UK head coach Matthew Mitchell announced Tuesday.
By Janet Patton, Lexington Herald Leader & Lisa Autry, Kentucky Public Radio
Kentucky Downs will open its gambling room with 200 instant racing machines on Sept. 1, the Franklin track announced Monday. A brief opening ceremony is planned at 10 a.m., then it is off to the historical races. Instant racing allows players to bet on previously run races; the games are designed to mimic electronic slots or video lottery terminals and appeal to bettors who wouldn't necessarily be drawn to traditional pari- mutuel wagering.
Georgetown College head basketball coach Happy Osborne resigned Saturday to become assistant basketball coach at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, Tenn., a NCAA Division I school. His office was cleared, and Osborne said he planned to go to Cookeville Sunday. “I’ve got to get out of here,” Osborne told the News-Graphic in an exclusive interview. “If I stick around until Monday or Tuesday, I’ll never leave.”
The University of Louisville says it is cooperating with an NCAA request to speak with assistant football coach Clint Hurtt about alleged recruiting violations during his time at the University of Miami. Hurtt (pictured) is named in a Yahoo Sports investigative report this week on former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, who has admitted providing cash, meals, prostitutes and the use of his yacht to recruits.
The North Oldham County Little League team will play the last game of the regional finals against Hamilton, Ohio this Saturday. If they win, they’ll head to Williamsport, Pennsylvania for the Little League World Series. The team is staying at the central division Little League Headquarters in Indianapolis, said manager Brad Bates.
Centre College is moving forward with plans to locate two new sports fields on land once occupied by some agricultural landmarks. In the last several months, the college has acquired the former Boyle County Stockyards and Farmers Tobacco Warehouse No. 1 sites. Michael Strysick, Centre’s director of communications, said plans include a multipurpose field that could serve as a playing surface for sports, including field hockey and lacrosse, on the corner of Dillehay and Hope streets.
When Daniel Cowan was a soccer player at George Rogers Clark High School, suffering a concussion was just par for the course. “Back then, it was just sit out of practice a couple days and you’re good to go. You might miss one game. It wasn’t a big deal,” Cowan said. Now Cowan is in a different position, coaching the GRC boys junior varsity soccer team, and concussions, he said, are something that he and coaches in all contact and collision sports are taking much more seriously.
The University of Kentucky's Darius Miller will represent the United States in the 2011 World University Games. Miller was named to the 12-member men's basketball team Wednesday following six days of tryouts at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado.
College football fans will have a voice this year in the selection of a player to receive the Paul Hornug Award. The national award, created last year by the Louisville Sports Commission to recognize the most versatile player in college football, is named for the Louisville native who excelled at several positions for Notre Dame and the Green Bay Packers.