- Georgia Bulldogs - March 3, 2015 - 9:00 PM EST - Stegeman Coliseum, Athens, Ga. - ESPN
While Kentucky was racing to the national championship game for the second time in three seasons, the same players who were making game-winning shots, providing the ultimate March Madness theater and manufacturing some of the greatest magic the tournament has ever seen were also taking care of business in the classroom.
Kentucky’s competing scholarship and non-scholarship student-athletes posted a 3.11 cumulative grade-point average during the 2014 spring semester, the sixth time in the last seven semesters the basketball team has posted better than a 3.0 team GPA.
The team’s 2014 spring GPA for competing scholarship student-athletes was a 3.05.
“I couldn’t be more proud of these young men,” John Calipari said. “Ten out of the 16 had a B average or better. Over the last five years, this basketball program has won as many games as anyone in college basketball, won a national championship and been to more Final Fours than anyone else, and none of that has been done at the expense of academics.”
As a matter of fact, UK’s classroom achievements nearly match the Wildcats’ on-court success since Coach Cal’s arrival.
The NCAA released its annual Academic Progress Rate report on Wednesday, and Kentucky once again met and exceeded the NCAA minimum needed to maintain postseason eligibility. UK posted a four-year composite score of 989, well above the 930 four-year average needed to compete in the 2014-15 championships.
The four-year composite score covers the 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years, Calipari’s first four teams at Kentucky. The 2013-14 team will not be included until next year’s report.
The NCAA’s APR measures academic eligibility and retention of student-athletes. All 10 players at UK under Coach Cal who have been eligible to graduate by the end of their senior years have walked away with a degree in hand, while two (Jarrod Polson and Patrick Patterson) have earned a degree in just three years.
“Not only have we graduated 10 players, we’ve had three guys (Polson, Jon Hood and Julius Mays) work towards advanced or second degrees and we’ve had three players (Marquis Estill, Wayne Turner and Jodie Meeks) come back to finish their degrees,” Calipari said. We’ve proven that you can succeed both on the court and in the classroom.”
Coach Cal has called UK’s achievements on the court and in the classroom its “success rate.” The way he explains it, if a student-athlete plays basketball at Kentucky, he is heading to the pros, getting his diploma or doing both.
The evidence in support of the success rate continues to mount with UK’s latest academic achievements.
Kentucky’s most recent four-year score 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.
“Hats off to Mike Stone, who continues to prove why he’s the best academic adviser in the country,” Calipari said. “Our kids understand the weight of academic responsibility they carry, but with everything we ask of them and all of the responsibilities that come along with being a student-athlete, nobody stays on top of our guys and holds them accountable quite like Mike. He’s the best there is.”
Cal’s individual APR rates last six years
*Note: 2013-14 scores will be released next year
UK posted a perfect APR score of 1,000 for the 2012-13 year. Since Coach Cal arrived at Kentucky, 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 989 for 2012-13.
In 2008-09, Calipari’s final year at Memphis, his team posted a one-year score of 980. The year before that, Coach Cal’s Tigers scored a perfect one-year mark of 1,000.
The latest academic performance by UK “puts lies to criticism,” Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News wrote.
With a composite score of 989, UK will not be subject to penalties, such as scholarship reductions or postseason restrictions. The men’s basketball team, along with every sport at Kentucky, has never incurred a penalty during the 10-year history of the APR.
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