Mike Pratt Was “A Superior Human Being,” Says Jim Host


One of the most influential men in college athletics for almost 50 years was Jim Host, founder of Host Communications in 1972 who bought the broadcast rights to Kentucky football and basketball games in 1974.

His sports marketing and management company helped change how colleges handled their media and marketing rights, one reason he is a member of 14 different business and sports Hall of Fames.

Host knew Mike Pratt, the former UK basketball All-American who passed away after a nearly four-year battle with cancer last week at the age of 73, from a business and personal level. He hired Pratt in 2001 to be the analyst on the UK Radio Network broadcasts — a job that was a labor of love for Pratt.

“He was a superior human being. On top of that he had intimate knowledge of the UK program and what it  meant to him as a player, other players and Big Blue Nation,” Host said on the Leach Report with Tom Leach, Pratt’s play-by-play partner on the UK Radio Network.

“That’s why I felt for many years that the color analyst on the UK Network needed to be a UK player if possible. We accomplished that with Mike. I always enjoyed being around him.”

Host also had the unique perspective of knowing Pratt as a player when he was an All-American at Kentucky during his playing career from 1967-70 for coach Adolph Rupp. Pratt scored 1,359 points — 16.8 per game — grabbed 718 rebounds — 8.9 per game. He had 29 double-doubles in 81 career games as a 6-4 forward playing with center Dan Issel, UK’s all-time leading scorer.

Kentucky went 71-12 in Pratt’s career, another reason he was inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.

“The guy was a heck of a player. He was a much greater player than has ever been illustrated in the record books primarily because Dan Issel was so dominant as a player,” Host said. “Mike was so highly thought of by everyone he played with and against.

“I don’t know a single person I have been involved with that was a better person than Mike Pratt.”

Considering the people Host has known and worked with, that’s high, high praise for Pratt. However, everyone who knew Pratt felt that way.

“Forget about the basketball, forget about the broadcasting, I think the legacy that Mike leaves is he was just a darn good guy,” Issel said the morning after Pratt’s death on the ESPN radio show in Louisville he hosted along with Pratt.

“He never met a stranger, he always had time for everybody, and I’m going to miss him dearly. I can take solace in the fact that I know where he is right now. My friend will never have to feel that excruciating pain again.”

Pratt never let anyone know the pain he was in and only missed two UK basketball broadcasts during his battle with cancer. He broadcast of 558 UK wins and saw UK win one national title and go to four Final Fours and nine Elite Eights.

“He was always prepared. He never complained.  I truly had no idea just how much pain he was going through,” Leach said. “He liked people and was very approachable and a lot of people wanted to talk to him. He was also a go-to guy for the media because of the content he provided.

Leach worked with Pratt 20 years and they recently released a book, “Kentucky Basketball: Two decades behind the scenes.” It shares many of the stories the two have experienced and becomes even  more of a treasure for Kentucky basketball fans now.

“It was actually his idea to do the book and I am so glad we got to share those stories,” Leach said. “It was not the ideal time for me to do it but I was not going to let him down because he never let you down.”

Host understood how much average Kentucky basketball fans came to love Pratt even if they never had a chance to meet him. Host also said Pratt was a “sponge” when it came to soaking up information and broadcast suggestions.

“Nobody is ever going to fill his shoes. They are just going to try and fit in his shoes,” Host said.

Eric Lindsey was UK’s primary media contact for the men’s basketball program for eight years as director of athletic communications before leaving UK during the 2021-22 season. He also previously worked for coachcal.com, John Calipari’s website.

He called Pratt “one of the kindest humans to ever walk this planet” on Twitter and said his “defining legacy” would be how he treated people.

“We should all aspire to be more like Mike,” Lindsey said.

Somehow I think Pratt loves knowing that is the legacy he left for Kentucky fans or anyone who knew him.

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