Herald-Leader sportswriter Chip Cosby spoke with Kentucky Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart at UK’s football bowl game against Pittsburgh Saturday.
Cosby asked Barnhart to elaborate on his feelings about the NCAA denying UK’s appeal and maintaining its ruling of freshman Enes Kanter permanently ineligible.
After the announcement of the ruling on Friday, Barnhart expressed his disappointment in the process.
“It has been difficult to understand,” he told Cosby. “The conversations we’ve had with the NCAA that have used language that in the last five years that they have used flexible decision-making that is non-binding and uses case precedent, which I’m not sure I understand what all that means to the future of our organization. I guess that means on any given day a decision can go whatever direction they want it to go, and that can’t used moving forward or going backwards.
“The regulation or bylaw that was in question in all these cases was Bylaw 12, and there seems to be de-regulation in every area except this area. That was problematic for us in this case. There seems to be a moving target for what’s permissible and not permissible. It’s just a really interesting time to figure out the direction of the organization of the NCAA.
“We’ve been on this everyday for the last nine months. It’s been a daily grind for Sandy Bell. The process is flawed; I will say that. I don’t agree with it. It needs attention. It’s painfully long and very difficult on the family. There needs to be a lot of cleanup in that area.”
On Friday, Barnhart noted the “significant” effort and expense UK poured into trying to convince the NCAA to rule Kanter eligible.
When asked how much the effort cost, Barnhart said, “That wasn’t the concern. We’ve had some people, our donors, offer to make contributions to offset some of the legal costs we’ve got, and we’ve got some of those. But that wasn’t my first concern. It was to try to put a guy who wanted to play college basketball on the floor.
“We certainly thought we had a legitimate case or we wouldn’t have kept going. But there are times when you begin to think we’re beating our head against the wall because it isn’t going to change, and it didn’t. The NCAA dug their heels in, and said we’re not changing our thought process.”