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Kentucky announces coaching change, Joker Phillips issues statement

Early Sunday afternoon, Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart announced that the school would make a change in its coaching staff at the conclusion of the season.

"After much conversation, evaluation and prayer, I have determined that it is in the best interest of our athletics program to make a change in our football coaching staff at the conclusion of the season," Barnhart wrote. "I do so with a heavy heart for a man who has served his alma mater for almost 22 years as a player and a coach Joker Phillips has carried the banner for the Blue and White with honor and pride. I have enjoyed working alongside him and am thankful for his friendship for the last decade. His concern for the entire program, his work and teaching of young people, his humanitarian work, and the friendship we all enjoy with him will long surpass the scoreboard. I want to thank him for all of those things on behalf of Kentucky.

The search for a new head coach will begin immediately and will be managed internally. I understand the challenge and significance of finding a new leader for our football program. It will be done with great concern for our student-athletes, students of the University of Kentucky, the Big Blue Nation and the citizens of the Commonwealth. Kentucky Football needs to be and will be a championship contender in the SEC.

"The search for a new head coach will begin immediately and will be managed internally," Barnhart continued. "I understand the challenge and significance of finding a new leader for our football program. It will be done with great concern for our student-athletes, students of the University of Kentucky, the Big Blue Nation and the citizens of the Commonwealth. Kentucky Football needs to be and will be a championship contender in the SEC."

Later Sunday afternoon, Phillips issued a statement of his own.

"I am very appreciative of Mitch Barnhart and Rich Brooks for providing the opportunity to have been the head coach here," wrote Phillips. "Mitch is the best athletic director I've ever been associated with.  He's fair and honest and he's "all in" in terms of student-athletes' well-being.  Rich is the best mentor a young coach could ever have.  I learned a lot from him in terms of plowing ahead.  They are dear friends.   Dr. Lee Todd and Dr. Eli Capilouto have both been very supportive.  I appreciate the Big Blue Nation and encourage the fans to stay behind their team going forward."

Pure class by Phillips in a very difficult time. 

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