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Mitch Barnhart, Mark Pope Comment On The Coaching Selection

Now onto his third coaching search for the men’s basketball program during his tenure, Mitch Barnhart has zeroed in on John Calipari’s successor. On Friday afternoon, just days after having to conduct a public search throughout the qualified candidates, one has finally been selected. Mark Pope, head coach of the BYU Cougars, has been named the 23rd coach in Kentucky Basketball history.

After playing for Kentucky from 1994-96, Mark understands what it means to take on this role and to win here. He was a team captain on a national championship winning team and now has came home to him alma mater to lead the way. He’s got nine years of head coaching experience under his belt and has passion for this program like no other. He’s fully committed to this school before anything else.

“Mark Pope not only brings an impressive record in nine years as a head coach, but also a love of the University of Kentucky and a complete understanding of what our program means to the people of our state,” Mitch Barnhart said. “As a captain on the ‘96 championship team, Mark was a beloved and respected teammate. As a head coach, he is highly regarded nationally as an innovator. His teams run a unique and dynamic up-tempo offense and they get after it on defense. He is a strong recruiter with international ties and a person of integrity.”


“He fully embraces our high expectations and standards and I know that as our fans get reacquainted with Mark, they will be eager to join him on what promises to be an exciting ride.” 

After the announcement became official, Mark Pope was asked to comment on the decision.

“The University of Kentucky is the pinnacle of coaching in college basketball. It’s the definition of blueblood program where hanging a banner is the expectation ever year,” Pope said. “Equally as important, UK changed my life forever as a human being. The love and passion I have for this program, this University and the people of the Commonwealth goes to the depth of my soul.”


“I’m thankful to Dr. (Eli) Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart for this opportunity. I’m proud to be your next head coach and I can’t wait to do this together!”

So now we enter the Mark Pope era of Kentucky Basketball. A coaching selection that was high on Mitch Barnhart’s list that many fans felt thrown off by at first. Many are starting to come around on the decision after a night of sleeping on it, so I’m curious, how do you think he’ll do here?

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