AD says to ignore the rumors
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- University of Kentucky president Lee Todd and athletic director Mitch Barnhart expressed their support Tuesday for football coach Rich Brooks, whose team is guaranteed its second straight losing season.
"We've got the coach we want," Barnhart said Tuesday, following a meeting of the university's board of trustees. "We're not in the market for a coach."
The Wildcats are 1-6 heading into Saturday's Southeastern Conference game against Mississippi State.
Reports last week on two national sports Web sites said that Brooks, who is 5-14 in two seasons at Kentucky, planned to resign at the end of the season.
"I'm not quitting," Brooks said Saturday and again Monday.
"People have self-serving interests and make things up," Barnhart said Tuesday. He added that college athletics "has become a business of rumor and innuendo. It's so important that our athletes and our coaches and our staffs stay focused on what their task is. That's harder than ever to do."
Barnhart said that in the college ranks, coaches used to be allowed four to seven years to turn around a program, then noted that Florida fired Ron Zook on Monday after less than three years on the job.
"I'm not a part of that decision-making and I'm not saying it's right or wrong. I'm just saying the time frames have changed," Barnhart said. "I'm not sure if that's good for college athletics, but that's reality."
Todd said that Brooks was hired under difficult circumstances and has been forced to deal with the aftermath of NCAA sanctions that took away 19 scholarships from Kentucky during a three-year period. Todd said he was encouraged by the performance of the young players Brooks and his staff have recruited.
"I'm as big a football fan as anybody, and I want to see this program get back in a winning tradition, and I know that both Mitch and coach Brooks want to as well," Todd said.
Asked if he was categorically behind Brooks, Todd said, "I am."
Todd said rumors typically swirl around a losing program.
"Any time you lose football games, I think you're going to have that kind of discussion," Todd said.
Brooks has three years remaining on a five-year contract that pays him $750,000 a year.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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