The signs are simple in design, plain and to the point.

They sit above the nameplate on nearly every door inside the Joe Craft Center, a message from Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart that being good simply isn't good enough anymore.

The monikers _ white with black block numbers _ read "15x15x15."

"It's simply a reminder to our staff that by the year 2015 we want to have a top 15 program nationally on the whole and we want to have won 15 championships in one way, shape or form," Barnhart said. "That would double the pace at which we've won championships in this department the last seven years."

The push, which officially started last fall, got off to a slow start. Only the school's rifle program won a conference title en route to a runner-up finish in the NCAA championships.

Trying to get 14 titles in the next seven years when you compete in the Southeastern Conference isn't easy. Still, after seven years on the job, Barnhart knows it's time to start getting ambitious.

Kentucky finished 34th in the Directors' Cup _ which measures athletic success in all varsity sports _ in 2008-09, up two places from the year before. It's progress, but it's also barely enough to keep up in the SEC.

"It's just where we are," Barnhart said. "It's a tough test. ... But you look at the fact we didn't score any points in men's or women's basketball or baseball and we still finished 34th in the country, that's pretty remarkable."

There were success stories, as 14 of the 22 sports qualified for postseason play. The football team won its third straight bowl game. The softball team made it to the NCAA tournament. Rondel Sorrillo became a track-and-field force, scoring points in three events at the NCAA championships.

There's still more to be done, however. Barnhart handed out T-shirts at the department's annual "CATSPYs" banquet with "Finish" emblazoned across the front, a not-so-subtle hint that it's time for the program to take the next step.

"When we get into the NCAAs we've got to learn to make deep runs and do the things other programs are doing," he said. "Are we capable of that? Absolutely we are capable of that. We had a lot of near-misses last year and we had a lot of teams that made a lot of progress."

Not everywhere though. The men's basketball team missed the NCAA tournament for the first time in 17 seasons and the school opted to fire coach Billy Gillispie after two tumultuous years.

The circus surrounding Gillispie's firing and the subsequent hiring of John Calipari as Gillispie's replacement took its toll on Barnhart.

"It's a difficult process but at the end my best interest, my greatest concerns have got to be for our program in total and the players specifically," he said. "Those are things you have to go through and we were able to find our way through it."

The university and Gillispie are still finding their way through the settlement, with the matter now in the courts. In retrospect Barnhart admits he wishes he could have gotten Gillispie to sign a formal contract instead of relying on a memorandum of understand.

"It's never been promised that it will be easy, so you journey through it the best you can and hopefully find some time to enjoy some successes later on," he said.

Sooner, though, would be better.

Barnhart admits he's amazed at how quickly Calipari has become a sensation across the state, giving the program a shot of energy not seen since Rick Pitino was patrolling the sidelines at Rupp Arena more than a decade ago.

"I think he pours incredible energy into his job," Barnhart said. "I'm amazed at the ideas that continue to come from him. Some of them you just sit there and shake your head and go 'No way' and others you go 'That's a pretty good idea.'"

The weight room at the Craft center is already getting a facelift _ at Calipari's request_ just two years after it opened, one that will also lead to changes at other weight training facilities on campus. It won't be cheap, but it'll be money well spent if it works.

"If it helps us get where we want to go and that's back to prominence at the top of college basketball, then that's important for us," he said.

Barnhart added he's not concerned about allegations of NCAA violations at Memphis that became known after Calipari was hired. The coach has not been deemed "at risk" by the NCAA, and Barnhart stressed Calipari is eager to help the Wildcats win the right way.

"There's one thing John says, 'I want my banners to count for something and I want to put the rings on the fingers and let them stay there,'" Barnhart said. "That's important to him and so he is embracing any help that we give him to make sure we're able to, at the end of the day, not have to look over our shoulders and worry."

There are other issues on the table. The school is exploring a potential deal that would replace Commonwealth Stadium and Rupp Arena, which will be 42 years old when the current lease expires in 2018.

The plan is still in the exploratory phase, though the issues surrounding the school's facilities will have to be dealt with eventually, either by Barnhart or his successor.

"Right now we still don't know whether it's going to work or not," he said. "It's got a chance. If it works it's program-changing for us."

For now the focus will be making changes on the playing field, namely in adding a conference or NCAA title or two sometime soon.

"If we win championships in this league, we've done something and we're gaining ground," he said. "Our goal this year will be to close the gap and finish some of the things we're getting close to."