Matthew Mitchell and his family live close enough to walk to places like Commonwealth Stadium and the renovated softball and soccer venues at Kentucky.
The coach and his wife wanted to see this place where they’ve laid down roots continue to grow, so they’ve decided to donate $1 million to Kentucky athletics.
“We wanted to be a very small part of what all they’re doing,” Mitchell told the Herald-Leader early Friday morning. “We just wanted to participate and show that we’re totally committed to all of the exciting things that are going on at UK right now.”
Mitchell pledged his donation, which will be spread out over 10 years, to Mitch Barnhart recently. The coach said it mostly will be used for capital projects, but he’s leaving that up to the athletic director’s discretion.
“The things that are going on facility wise for us and Commonwealth Stadium and all of the improvements that are on the way for football are so critical to every other program on campus that that program maximizing its financial effectiveness is crucial to all of us,” Mitchell explained.
UK is in the middle of a $120 million renovation at the football stadium and preparing to build a privately funded $45 million football practice facility nearby.
The Kentucky women’s basketball coach said he appreciates the chance that Barnhart took on him seven years ago and wanted to show that in a tangible way.
“In the coaching profession, you can live a real nomadic life, bounce around to different places, chasing a place like Kentucky,” Mitchell said. “The fact that we were able to land here at a pretty young age and put some roots down in this community and also the success we’ve had, we felt has all been a blessing.
“We just wanted to give a little bit back to the program that’s been so good to us.”
In a release from UK, Barnhart praised Mitchell’s selflessness.
“I want people to know and understand what special, special people Matthew and Jenna are to this community,” Barnhart said. “I’m very thankful for their generosity, team approach and long-term vision to this athletics department and this university.”
This isn’t Mitchell’s first big-ticket donation. When Kentucky extended his contract in 2012, the coach donated $100,000 of that money to scholarships on the academic side.
This season as part of the “We Back Pat” initiative, Mitchell donated more than $40,000 to the Pat Summitt foundation as it tries increase Alzheimer’s awareness.