In a move that has come suddenly, Kentucky Wildcats head football coach Joker Phillips has been fired due to the team’s poor performances this season. He will remain as coach for the remainder of the year, but will be dismissed at its conclusion.
In an open letter from the University of Kentucky, Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart starts by praising Phillips and his nearly 22 year commitment to the Wildcats, both as a player and a coach. He then moves to make a difficult decision in letting Phillips go.
“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’s letter read.
“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.”
Barnhart goes on to say that the search for a new head coach “will begin immediately.”
Following the team’s loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores this past Saturday, Phillips was asked whether or not he’d like to see himself return as the head coach for another year. He replied, “I’d love to. No doubt I would love to. It’s not for me to decide. I understand Mitch’s position and the things that go into it.”
When asked following that game if he’d spoken to Barnhart about his job he said, “So we have not talked. Again, it will be evaluated at the end of the season, like you said. That’s all I know about it.”
Kentucky has two more games remaining on their 2012 schedule.