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UK is ranked No. 13 in the latest Directors' Cup standings, well ahead of the pace set by last year's record No. 25 finish. (Chet White, UK Athletics) UK is ranked No. 13 in the latest Directors' Cup standings, well ahead of the pace set by last year's record No. 25 finish. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
A season ago, UK Athletics set a record by finishing in the top 25 of Directors' Cup standings for the first time in school history.

Now, UK is poised to blow that record-setting performance out of the water.

Kentucky ranks 13th in the latest Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings on the strength of strong finishes by men's basketball, rifle, women's indoor track and field and women's basketball. Also scoring points among winter sports were men's and women's swimming and diving and men's indoor track and field.

UK currently ranks second among all 14 Southeastern Conference schools, trailing only No. 6 Florida, and leads all schools from the Bluegrass state, with Louisville coming in at No. 20.

Looking ahead, UK appears to have a good chance of maintaining its current ranking or even improving on it. UK will add points from gymnastics' finish at NCAA Regionals when standings are tabulated on April 24 and potentially even more as spring sports play out.

The women's outdoor track and field team currently checks in at No. 5 in the polls after finishing ninth at NCAA Indoor Championships, while the men are No. 24. Baseball, softball and men's tennis are all ranked in the top 15, while women's tennis is No. 28 and both golf teams are in contention for NCAA berths.

If those teams perform as well as expected, UK could be in line to meet Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart's goal of finishing in the top 15 of Directors' Cup standings by the year 2015 as part of the 15 by 15 by 15 Plan. UK has won 11 of the 15 conference or national titles needed to meet Barnhart's goal and has reached his threshold of a 3.0 department-wide grade-point average in three straight semesters.

It's also worth mentioning that UK is faring well in Capitol One Cup standings, tying for seventh in men's standings with 41 points and coming in 37th in women's standings.

All in all, 2013-14 is shaping up to be a year to remember for UK Athletics.

Video: 'Who Does That?' -- The Wildcat

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In this month's installment of "Who Does That?" UKNow profiles UK's official mascot, The Wildcat, with the help of cheerleading coach Jomo Thompson. Take a look.


DISH Network signs on to carry SEC Network

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SEC_ESPN_Network_CLR_hor.jpg UK fans who subscribe to DISH Network had reason to be excited on Monday night.

DISH agreed to a long-term distribution agreement with ESPN on Monday that will make the SEC Network available to its subscribers when the new network launches in August. The channel will be available in DISH's Top 120+ and higher packages across the country.

"Few fan bases rival the passion and loyalty of the SEC, and DISH is proud to be the first nationwide television provider of the SEC Network," said Dave Shull, DISH executive vice president and chief commercial officer. "We strive to give our customers and consumers what they want, and there's no better place for the college sports fan than with DISH."

The channel number will be announced at a later date.

"This is an important day for the SEC Network," SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said. "We are pleased to welcome DISH to the SEC family. More than five months ahead of the network launch, it's exciting to have a national distributor and our first satellite provider onboard. Now SEC fans from across the country have another way to show their conference pride and sign up to get the SEC Network."

Fans played an important role in making the deal happen by showing DISH and other providers how much they want access to the SEC Network. UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart reminded everyone in that fact soon after the announcement.



SEC Network FAQ

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Thumbnail image for SEC Network logo.jpg GENERAL / STRUCTURAL

1.  When will the SEC Network launch?

The SEC Network will launch in August 2014.

2.  What will the network be called?
The network will be called the "SEC Network."  Although it's formal name is the "SEC ESPN Network"

3.   How is this different from SEC TV (formerly called the SEC Network)?
SEC TV, referred to as the SEC Network prior to 2013, previously aired SEC football and basketball games on local channels. The SEC Network launching in August will be its own channel on your television which you will be able to access via cable or satellite television. Events selected to air on the SEC Network will only be available on the channel. Come August 2014, SEC TV will no longer exist.

4.  How is this different than other conference or single-school networks?
This collaboration between the SEC and ESPN will bring together unparalleled content from one of the most competitive conferences in the country with the highest quality, most innovative production partner in the sports industry.

This will be a national sports network.

5.  How can I get the SEC Network in time for the August 2014 launch?

Fans should visit www.GetSECNetwork.com to alert their cable or satellite distributor they are interested in receiving the network.

An agreement is already in place with AT&T U-verse, DISH and NRTC to distribute the SEC Network.  ESPN is working hard to ensure that the network will be available via cable, satellite and telco distributors (such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, and Verizon FiOS).  ESPN will continue negotiating with the other distributors in the coming months.

6.  Will the SEC Network look similar to ESPN channels?
The SEC Network will have the highest quality production value that is a standard across all ESPN networks.  At the same time, the SEC Network will have a distinctive look and feel from other ESPN networks.

7.  Where will the SEC Network be located?

The production home will be in Charlotte, N.C.  This location will provide for efficient use of ESPN's existing production facility in Charlotte and it will have support from all of ESPN's resources in Bristol, Conn.

8.  Why is Charlotte the SEC Network's home especially since there are no SEC teams in N.C.?
ESPN already has a state-of-the-art facility in Charlotte that is easily accessible from across the SEC footprint.

9.  Will each campus (or the SEC Offices) have upgraded television facilities?

Each campus will ultimately have the capability to produce live events locally which will be available on the SEC Network's digital outlets and possibly on the television channel too.

10. How many people will work for the SEC Network?
We anticipate more than 100 full-time staff for the SEC Network.

11. Where can I apply for a job at SEC Network?
Interested applicants should visit ESPNcareers.com

PROGRAMMING & CONTENT

12. Will the SEC Network be 24 hours a day, seven days a week?

The SEC Network will have 24/7 programming; it's a dedicated channel for all things SEC.

13. What kind of shows will I see on the SEC Network?

At the outset, the network will offer SEC sports and sports-related studio programming 24 hours a day, seven days a week, such as SEC Nation, the network's traveling football pregame show that will air every Saturday during the fall, a television simulcast of The Paul Finebaum Show and a daily news and information show.

More than 1,000 live events will also be available in the first full year across the television network and its digital extensions.  This will include approximately 45 football games, more than 100 men's basketball games, 60 women's basketball games and events from across all 21 SEC-sponsored sports.

14. How will the SEC Network enhance the SEC fan experience?
More than 1,000 live events will be available. The SEC Network will provide more than 450 live games on television each year.  An additional 550 games will be distributed digitally. The network will bring football, basketball, baseball, and all SEC campus sports to SEC fans. These outlets will provide more in-depth content to fans across the country than ever before.  Fans will be able to access content on a range of devices.  Also, there will be SEC specific programming dedicated to news and analysis surrounding the events.

15.  How many football games will be aired on the network?
The SEC Network will televise approximately 45 football games per season.

16.  How many basketball games? Baseball? Women's sports? Olympic?

At least 450 events will be televised on the SEC Network each year. Of the 450 events, there will be more than 100 men's basketball games, 60 women's basketball games,75 baseball, 50 softball and 120 Olympic sports on the SEC Network. More than 550 additional sporting events will be available on our digital platforms. The digital platform will include an outlet, similar to ESPN3, for the other 550 games and a live linear stream of the television network. This content will be available to network subscribers across a range of devices.

17.  Will each school have a block of time to program as they see fit?
This is a conference-wide network.  The goal is to provide equitable exposure for each of the SEC member institutions.  The SEC Network will achieve this goal without each school having its own block of time to program.

18.  Will the SEC Network show breaking news or investigative pieces about the conference similar to ESPN?
The SEC Network will cover and report on sports news and information in an objective manner, but the basic premise is the network will represent the conference and its member institutions.  While ESPN does investigative pieces, that's not something contemplated for the SEC Network.

The network has created a Content Board which has equal representation from the SEC and ESPN.  The Board will work collaboratively on the programming and presentation.  The SEC Network, along with its digital extensions, will serve SEC sports fans and sports fans more broadly.

19.  Will I still see my weekly coaches' show on local TV?

That's very likely although dependent on whether there's an arrangement with the local television outlet.  Coaches' shows are not a focus of the SEC Network programming plan.
 
20. Will there be academic programming?
There are no dedicated blocks of academic programming planned at the outset of the network, but there will be opportunities to promote the academic and research accomplishments and reputations of SEC institutions within the live programming of the network.

21. What access and programming is each school obligated to provide to the SEC Network?
Outside of the rights in the existing CBS and ESPN agreements, each school provides the rights and access to all other live events for the SEC Network.

22.  Can schools create academic programming or shows of their own for the digital network outside what they air within game telecasts?
The digital network will primarily focus on event programming.  While we don't rule out opportunities to include programming beyond sporting events, that's not a focus for the digital network at this time.
 
23.  Will the SEC Network air high school football games?
No.

24. Will the SEC Network be able to re-air games shown on other ESPN networks?  CBS?
Yes.
 
25. Will the SEC Network air bowl games?  SEC Conference Championships?
There are no current plans to air bowl games on the SEC Network.  The network will televise content from across the various SEC Championships.

26. Will there be fewer games available to me now that there is a SEC Network?
No. The SEC Network will provide more than 1,000 live events per year for SEC fans and sports fans across the country.  These games will also be available online on a range of devices to allow for widespread access that is not currently available.

27. Will the SEC Network include new personalities or use existing ESPN personalities for the games and studio shows?

A mix of both existing ESPN personnel and new on-air staff will be present on the SEC Network. For example, ESPN veteran Joe Tessitore was announced as the host of the pregame show SEC Nation and Tim Tebow was also hired as one of the show's college football analysts.

DISTRIBUTION / AVAILABILITY/ AD SALES

28.   What cable operators will carry the SEC Network?

An agreement is already in place with AT&T U-verse, DISH and NRTC to distribute the SEC Network.  ESPN is working hard to ensure that the SEC Network will be available via cable, satellite and telco distributors (such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, and Verizon FiOS).  ESPN will continue negotiating with the other distributors in the coming months.

Your cable, satellite, or telco provider makes programming decisions based on customer requests. As a fan of the Southeastern Conference, please support the SEC Network by visiting www.GetSECNetwork.com and calling your cable, satellite or telco provider and requesting the SEC Network.
 
29.  Are there currently any carriage agreements?
Yes.  An agreement is already done with AT&T U-verse, the fastest growing multi-channel distributor in the country.

30. How do I get the digital part of the SEC Network?

Provided you are a customer who receives the network from your cable, satellite or telco provider, you can contact that provider and get a username and password which will allow you to access the content on computers, tablets, mobile phones and other consumer devices like Xbox.

31. What is the best way for fans and alumni who want to make sure their cable company carries the SEC Network?

Please visit www.GetSECNetwork.com to show your interest in the SEC Network and provide some general contact information.

32. What's the expected reach of the SEC Network outside the SEC footprint and on what level of service will distributors carry the network (Expanded basic? Tier?)?
The network will have strong appeal and interest beyond the 11-state SEC footprint.  While this is all subject to negotiation, carriage will be sought on broadly distributed packages.

33.  Will I be able to watch the SEC Network on my mobile phone or similar device?
Yes. Provided you are a subscriber of an affiliated provider (a cable, satellite or telco partner), the SEC Network will be available on computers, tablets, mobile phones and other consumer devices like Xbox. The aim is to make this content available to fans anytime, anywhere, similar to how the WatchESPN application works today.
 
34. How will you decide what games to televise early in the SEC Network's existence?
The SEC has great depth in all major sports so the network will have top-tier matchups each week to serve viewers and those distributors that choose to carry the network.  We have announced a double-header to kick-off the college football season on the network.  On August 28th, we will feature two games exclusively on the SEC Network - Texas A&M at South Carolina and Temple at Vanderbilt.
 
35.  Will local affiliates (over-the-air nets) broadcast my team's games if our region/cable provider does not carry the service (Ole Miss fans got this when they played on LHN)?
No. SEC Network programming and events will only be made available on the SEC Network channel or digital platforms.

36. Can I pay to subscribe to the network online, Pay-Per-View or via ESPN3 if I can't get it on TV?
No. The games will be exclusive to the network and its digital extensions.  However, once a subscriber has access to the network via an affiliated provider, that subscriber will have access to the content on computers, tablets, mobile phones and other consumer devices like Xbox.  The aim is to make this content available to fans anytime, anywhere.

37.  How will this impact my cable bill?
ESPN negotiates for license fee payments from its distributors and has no control over retail pricing.  Retail prices are determined by each distributor.

38. Will all SEC campuses carry the network?

Campuses served by an affiliated provider will have access to the SEC Network.
 
39. I live in [state outside SEC footprint]. Are you working to make sure we are able to see the SEC Network too?

Yes. Our interest is in delivering this content in broadly distributed packages across the country. This will be a national television channel.

40. Right now, I see all my favorite team's games online at the [SEC school athletics] site. Will I still be able to see all those games?

The network is for media rights to all sports across the 14 member institutions.  Any games produced by the schools will have an outlet, either the SEC Network or its digital extensions, where fans can watch.  You will see not only events originating from your favorite school's campus on the SEC Network or its digital extensions, but also road events involving your favorite school that you previously would have had to seek on opposing schools' websites.

41. Who will sell sponsorship for the SEC Network?

ESPN will sell advertising and sponsorship on behalf of the network.  ESPN will also represent the SEC's Corporate Sponsor Program.

42. Where can I apply for a job at SEC Network?
You can apply online at ESPNcareers.com.  Job openings for the SEC Network positions will be posted in late Spring 2014.

43. Will the SEC Network have an internship program?

ESPN has a SEC internship program already in place.  The SEC Network will source candidates from the existing process and pool.  Information about where to apply is forthcoming.

44. How will money from the SEC Network be used on campuses?

Each member institution has control and discretion on how they use any proceeds from their media rights.

The Kentucky cheerleading team claimed its 20th national championship on Sunday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) The Kentucky cheerleading team claimed its 20th national championship on Sunday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Only for the Kentucky cheerleading team can one season without a national championship feel like a drought.

Last year, the cheerleaders were named runners-up to Memphis. On Sunday, UK returned to its familiar perch atop the world of college cheerleading.

"When you finally hear second place called and then they call first place, it's a lot of emotion, a lot of joy," Jomo Thompson said via cell phone. "We just feel vindicated, especially after coming in second place last year. We wanted to make sure we got back to the top and we did that."

UK won an unprecedented 20th national title at the UCA/UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship in Orlando, Fla., finishing ahead of second-place UCF. UK has now won an incredible 15 championships since 1995, only being dethroned five times during that span.

"I'm just fortunate to have been a part of this program for so long and I love UK," said Thompson, the former UK cheerleader who has won eight national titles in his 12 years as head coach. "I love UK cheerleading. I'm just glad I'm here to experience it with the kids. We strive every day to be the best. It's just a great thing that we've won so many times. It just speaks to the history and the tradition of winning and be the best."

The UCA's official Twitter account described the winning routine as both starting and finishing strong. Thompson saw much of the same, saying UK's finals routine was even better than a solid one in Saturday's preliminary round.

"I think they just really seized the opportunity," Thompson said. "They didn't let down. They didn't take anything for granted. They just did a really good job of going out there and executing and bringing home number 20."

The championship is the culmination of a year of hard work. UK didn't drastically alter the formula that has led to so much past success, but a seven-member senior class was intent on going out the right way. Thompson said those veterans played an instrumental role in setting the tone for UK's training.

"We just told the kids, 'You want to make sure that you're giving a hundred percent every time, even in practice, because you get one shot, one opportunity,' " Thompson said. "So you want to experience as many as things that can go wrong, encounter all those things in practice so if something like that happens at nationals, you're ready for it. I thought they did a great job this year getting themselves prepared."

The UK dance team also competed this weekend, turning in an impressive performance in the Division IA Hip Hop finals. UK came in fifth, an improvement from last year's sixth-place finish. Head coach Dawn Walters reported the team posted a score of 93.2, its best ever.

"The girls had a lot of confidence today when we went out to perform," Walters said. "They really went out there and had energy and excitement and the whole arena really went crazy when they were up there. Our degree of difficulty was higher this year than last year and we had a lot of group tricks. I think their confidence was the biggest thing this year."

UK Athletics congratulates both the cheer and dance teams for their achievements this weekend!


The UK cheerleading team is looking for its 20th national championship this weekend. (Chet White, UK Athletics) The UK cheerleading team is looking for its 20th national championship this weekend. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
After months of practice and supporting Kentucky teams at games, UK's cheerleading and dance teams will take center stage at the 2014 UCA and UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship this weekend at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla.

Both teams will compete first on Saturday, with the cheerleaders beginning their quest for their 20th national championship at 7:50 p.m. ET in the Division IA Semifinals. The dance team will compete in both the Division IA Pom and Hip Hop Semfinals at 8:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The finals for all three competitions will take place on Sunday with results expected to come in between 8-9:30.

Last year, the cheerleading team finished second. The dance team finished eighth in Pom and sixth in Hip Hop.

You can find information on how to keep up with the competition on the UCA and UDA's website right here. You can also follow @UCAupdates, @UDAnews, @UKAthleticsNews and @KentuckyCheer for real-time updates.

UK Athletics made steady progress toward Mitch Barnhart's goal of a 3.0 department-wide grade-point average in his first nine years, but only once did Wildcat student-athletes reach the mark.

Two years later, what was once a rare feat has become the norm.

For the third consecutive semester, UK Athletics posted a cumulative GPA better than 3.0. UK's competing scholarship student-athletes combined for a fall 2013 GPA of 3.088. It is the second-highest mark of the Barnhart era, trailing only the spring semester of 2013. UK began its streak of three consecutive semesters with a GPA of better than 3.0 with a 3.030 in fall 2012.

"Reaching a 3.0 GPA as a department is now expected, but that doesn't make it any less of an accomplishment," Barnhart said. "I am proud of the way our student-athletes have sustained their success in the classroom and even prouder of the way they have embraced academics as an important part of the UK experience."

**SEE BELOW FOR COMPLETE GRADE INFORMATION BY SPORT**


Sixteen of UK's 20 teams had GPAs of 3.0 or better, led by women's tennis at 3.727. Women's cross country (3.608), softball (3.608) and women's swimming and diving (3.533) joined women's tennis in exceeding 3.5. Leading all Wildcat men's teams was men's tennis at 3.443.

Of the 12 teams that competed in regular-season play during the fall, 10 had GPAs of better than 3.0. That includes the men's basketball team at 3.038, marking the fourth straight semester in which John Calipari's program has had a GPA better than 3.0.

"Thanks to the work of our student-athletes, coaches and staff, I believe we are moving in the right direction in all facets of our program," Barnhart said. "We are coming off our first top-25 Directors' Cup finish ever last year and we are still out to prove strong athletics and academics can go together."

GPAs Fall 2013.jpg

Video: A Christmas message from the Kid A.D.

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Video: UK student-athletes give back to community

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