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ACADEMIC SPOTLIGHT: Three UK Squads Win NCAA Academic Honors


UK has a school-record three teams – women’s cross country, men’s golf and men’s tennis – that have received awards for their Academic Progress Rate scores, it was announced recently by the NCAA.

The Wildcat squads received the honor for placing in the top 10 percent of Division I schools in their respective sports. The APR provides a real-time look at a team's academic success by the progress of each student-athlete on scholarship. The APR scores are a four-year composite, covering the 2009-10 through 2012-13 school years, that measure eligibility, retention and graduation.

In addition to having three teams recognized in the same year, it’s also the first time that a UK squad has won in three consecutive years, as this marks three in a row for men’s golf.

"I’m very proud to have three teams win top-10 awards," said Mitch Barnhart, UK Director of Athletics. “Obviously, the teams have done their job in the classroom and I thank Coach (Edrick) Floreal, Coach (Brian) Craig and Coach (Cedric) Kauffman for their success in managing their programs.”

The Wildcat coaches were excited to hear the news about their teams’ achievements.

“Receiving this APR award from the NCAA is a testament to the commitment that each of our athletes has put towards succeeding in the classroom,” Floreal said. “Our CATS (Center for Academic and Tutorial Services) academic counselor, Mike Pirrman, also deserves a lot praise for not just supporting and guiding our athletes, but setting them up to have successful careers after they’ve graduated from the University of Kentucky.”

Said Craig, "The UK men's golf program is proud to accept this Academic Progress Rate honor for the third consecutive year. This award is simply a reflection of two important groups. First, our guys are committed to their academics and do an excellent job in the classroom and taking care of their responsibilities. Second, a big thank you to our CATS program and, specifically, Amy Craiglow who is the finest academic counselor and mentor in all of collegiate athletics. I cannot say enough about Amy and all that she has done for this program for many years."

Commented Kauffman, "I'm really proud of our guys (on the tennis squad) for earning this prestigious honor. The players have conducted themselves in a first-class manner. It's not easy to be a student-athlete and they have really gone to work in the classroom and on the court. We have been successful on the court in large part due to our success off the court, and a lot of that can be attributed to our former players who set an extremely high standard for our current players. I also appreciate Bob Bradley and the CATS staff for their help. I couldn't be more pleased for our players for earning this award."

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In the midst of a record-setting athletic season, Wildcat student-athletes combined for their best academic semester since 2002-03, the first year for which complete grade information is available.

Continuing to raise the bar in the classroom, scholarship Wildcats combined for a remarkable 3.218 cumulative grade-point average for the spring semester. UK Athletics has now posted GPAs of at least 3.0 in four consecutive semesters.

“We have great expectations for our student-athletes, but to get to this spot is special,” Barnhart said. “I know how hard our kids work every day and I’m so proud to see it pay off like this. This semester is proof of the commitment they have made in the classroom."

Of UK’s 20 teams, 18 posted GPAs of better than 3.0. The women’s swimming and diving team led the way with a 3.728 GPA, closely followed by women’s cross country (3.667), softball (3.599), women’s tennis (3.546) and rifle (3.517). Men’s tennis (3.401) led all UK men’s teams.

As for men's basketball team, it posted a 3.11 cumulative grade-point average during the 2014 spring semester, including 10 student-athletes who amassed a 3.0 or better. It marked the sixth time in the last seven semesters the basketball team has achieved a 3.0 or higher GPA. In addition, Kentucky totaled a perfect APR score of 1,000 for the 2012-13 year.

Since John Calipari arrived in Lexington, his teams have posted one-year APR scores of 979 in 2009-10, 979 in 2010-11, 977 for the 2011-12 national championship season and 1,000 for 2012-13. Kentucky’s most recent four-year composite score of 989, ranked in the 80th-90th percentile among all Division I basketball scores and the 60th-70th percentile within all Division I sports. The NCAA’s average APR for all Division I men’s basketball schools was 957.

Recent news is a continuation of the academic accomplishments of UK student-athletes. In October of 2013, it was announced that UK has broken or tied the NCAA Graduation Success Rate every year since the NCAA began measuring that statistic in 2005. UK athletes have posted an overall grade-point average over 3.0 in each of the last three semesters.