Barnhart Hires Volleyball Coach

Craig Skinner, the head assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Nebraska, was named the University of Kentucky's head volleyball coach Thursday, athletics director Mitch Barnhart announced.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for my wife and myself," Skinner said. "We're very excited to come to the University of Kentucky. I can see special things happening there and I'm looking forward to building a great program."

"I'd like to thank Mitch Barnhart for this opportunity," Skinner continued. "He's a very classy individual and a great athletics director. I'm looking forward to working with him and his staff."

Skinner has spent the last five seasons as an assistant at Nebraska under John Cook and was named head assistant coach in 2003. During his tenure, the Huskers have put together a 154-11 record and claimed the 2000 NCAA title with a perfect 34-0 record. The Huskers made a return trip to the Final Four in 2001 and have advanced to NCAA regional semifinals or finals in every season since. In the last five years, Nebraska also has compiled a 97-3 record in Big 12 action.

"It's exciting to have someone join our program who brings credentials like Craig," Barnhart said. "He's had the opportunity to recruit and coach elite athletes at the highest level of women's collegiate volleyball. That will be a tremendous asset for Kentucky volleyball as we grow our program."

Skinner served as defensive coordinator at Nebraska and worked primarily with the middle blockers. He coached three women to six All-America honors during his five-year stay, including Melissa Elmer, who received her second All-America honor this week. The Huskers have led the nation in blocking in four of the past five seasons.

A 1993 graduate of Ball State, Skinner was an outside attacker for the Cardinals and helped guide BSU to a 28-11 record and a third-place finish at the 1990 NCAA Championships. He was a team captain his final two seasons. While attending Ball State, Skinner also served on staff at the Asics Munciana Volleyball Club, helping lead the 18-and-under squad to the U.S. Volleyball Association national runner-up finish in 1992.

A native of Muncie, Ind., Skinner spent three seasons as an assistant coach under Cook at Wisconsin, from 1994-96, aiding the Badgers to a 68-35 record and three postseason appearances, including the 1996 NCAA regional semifinals.

Skinner returned to his alma mater in 1999, helping guide the Ball State men to wins over three nationally ranked teams and an 8-4 record at midseason in 2000 before leaving for Nebraska. That team finished the season ranked 13th in the USA Today/AVCA Top 25.

The 34-year-old Skinner is married to Nebraska assistant women's soccer coach Megan Bechtold Skinner and the couple has a one-year-old daughter, Sophie Jane.

Skinner will begin hiring his coaching staff immediately.

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