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Barnhart to Mitchell: Stabilize program, make improvements now

Mitch Barnhart (Wade Upchurch Photo)

Mitch Barnhart (Wade Upchurch Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

During his 45-minute press conference Wednesday detailing the turmoil in the women’s basketball program, coach Matthew Mitchell revealed what athletics director Mitch Barnhart had said to him — or at least some of what Barnhart said.

“I sense that there is urgency from Mitch that we want our kids and players to be in a stable situation. I think he has that wish for our program and every other program,” Mitchell said. “I have never been around an athletic director that cares more about these young people as individuals and I have said this many times, he knows every athlete in this department and knows her story or his story. He has a tremendous heart for people.

“He wants our team to have a stable situation. There is a tremendous urgency because all the stuff that is going on and all the external factors that are really loud right now and I understand the way that it looks and it needs to improve, but the main thing right now that Mitch is concerned about and that I am concerned about is our players and how can we show them that this is the place they want to be.

“There are players in there that are telling me, ‘Coach, you don’t have to worry about me. I am all in and 100 percent behind you and having the time of my life and I know you are going to show us the way forward.’ There are other players that are more uneasy.

“We have to signal stability to them and there is a tremendous urgency for that that Mitch has and that I have and that I shared with Mitch. I just appreciate the confidence he has in me and he has always been very supportive and we are connected with common values and have the same beliefs and value the same things.

“We have a very special connection in that way. He has been very supportive and very constructively critical as well and that is what I need during this time. I need to make improvements.”

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