Cats post 3.4 GPA, highest of Coach Cal era

While his players continue to make it to the NBA with regularity, John Calipari is proving that it’s more than possible to enjoy success both on the court and in the classroom at Kentucky.

The latest example: UK’s 2013 spring grade-point average.

Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart presented the athletic department-wide GPA for the 2013 spring semester to the university’s athletics oversight committee on Tuesday. The numbers included UK men’s basketball’s 3.4 GPA, the highest mark of the Coach Cal era.

“I’m proud of the hard work our guys have put in both on and off the court,” Calipari said. “When you come to Kentucky, you are either going pro or getting a degree — or both. We call it the success rate, and right now we’re batting 100 percent. When you run a players-first program, it’s not just about loving to play basketball; it’s about teaching our kids the love of learning.”

UK’s 3.4 GPA includes all competing scholarship and non-scholarship student-athletes. Kentucky’s GPA for its competing scholarship players was a 3.39, the highest among all men’s sports at UK.

Twelve of Kentucky’s 13 players posted a 3.0 or better and two achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA, according to tweets Coach Cal sent out Tuesday morning.

While the spring GPA is the highest of Calipari’s four years at UK, it isn’t an anomaly. Starting with the 2013 spring semester and going backwards, Calipari’s teams have posted GPAs of 3.4, 3.06, 3.12, 2.71 and 3.14 over the last five spring and fall semesters.

The release of the GPAs come a little more than a week after Twany Beckham, Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson received their degrees from UK. All 10 players who have been eligible to graduate by the end of their senior years under Calipari have graduated from Kentucky.

Former players Wayne Turner and Marquis Estill have also come back to school and received their diplomas, raising the total number of graduates to 12 under Coach Cal’s watch.

In a post on two weeks ago, Calipari called his team’s academic success “The untold story at Kentucky.”

“Are we proud of our players making it to the NBA? Of course,” Calipari wrote. “Are we happy about averaging more than 30 wins over the last four years? You bet. But we’re about more than that here at Kentucky. When you run a players-first program, it’s about helping kids reach their dreams both on and off the court and preparing them for the rest of their lives. You can do both at the University of Kentucky. It’s a standard that’s been set.”

UK is expected to meet and surpass the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate, which measures academic eligibility and retention of student athletes, when it’s released in June. The team posted a four-year composite score of 963 last year, well above the NCAA cutoff mark of 930.

The Kentucky players work closely with academic counselor Michael Stone and the rest of the staff at the Center for Academic and Tutorial Services to make sure they meet and exceed their academic requirements.

Kentucky posted a 3.14 cumulative spring GPA for competing scholarship student-athletes across all 22 sports, the best mark in the Barnhart era.

“I am continually impressed by the way our student-athletes, coaches and staff embrace academics as an important part of our mission,” Barnhart said. “We are identified first by what we do in competition, but we are out to prove an athletic department can excel in all facets.”