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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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Video: Wildcats reflect on Ethiopia service trip

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SEC Network programming taking shape

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In just nine months, the Southeastern Conference and ESPN will launch the SEC Network together.

It's now becoming clearer exactly what fans can expect to see on the network.

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and ESPN's Senior Vice President Justin Connolly held a joint press conference on Friday at the Georgia Dome before the league's football championship game, making several announcements about the network.

Headlining the press conference was the announcement that the SEC will kick off the 2014 football season on the network with a Thursday-night doubleheader. It will mark the first time ever that the college football year will begin on a conference network.

"In a span of two days or three days, we'll have five football games on the SEC Network, and then a triple-header every Saturday thereafter," Slive said. "Our goal is to get somewhere close to 45 football games on the network each fall."

Joining the previously announced Texas A&M-South Carolina game, Temple and Vanderbilt will face off on Aug. 28 to get the 2014 season rolling. UK won't play in the opening doubleheader, but you can be sure the Wildcats will play on the SEC Network multiple times in Mark Stoops' second season.

For that reason, it remains important that UK fans make their voices heard in calling for their cable and satellite providers to carry the SEC Network. AT&T U-verse remains the only national distributor signed on the carry the SEC Network, with providers like Time Warner, DirecTV and Dish Network still not on board.

Fans can visit GetSECNetwork.com to check whether their cable and satellite providers carry the SEC Network and, if they do not, contact them to demand they do. Cable and satellite providers make programming decisions based on customer requests. Fans should also regularly check GetSECNetwork.com for the latest information about the launch of the new SEC Network.  

For fans in Lexington that want the new SEC Network, Time Warner subscribers should call 859-514-1400, DirecTV subscribers should call 1-800-347-3288 and DISH Network subscribers should call 1-800-333-3474 to let them know you want the SEC Network. Cable TV subscribers outside Lexington can obtain the phone number to call from GetSECNetwork.com.

Beyond the live events that will air on the SEC Network, Slive and Connolly announced two exciting shows that will be shown regularly.

First is a two-hour traveling Saturday pregame show called SEC Nation that will be hosted by Joe Tessitore. A sort of SEC-centric version of ESPN's popular College GameDay, SEC Nation will travel to an SEC campus each week, starting with stops in Columbia, S.C., for South Carolina-Texas A&M on Aug. 28 and Auburn, Ala., for Auburn-Arkansas on Aug. 30.

"The thing that's unique about the SEC, as all of you know is what the pregame experience is, and we want to take people into that," said ESPN's Stephanie Druley. "We want people at home to feel like I've been there even though I haven't. Because there is nothing like it."

Additionally, the SEC Storied documentary series that began in 2011 will expand on the SEC Network. Ten original features will be produced next year to celebrate the rich tradition of the nation's best conference.

"We'll go from four to ten a year, and we'll debut six of the ten on the network, and we'll debut the other four on ESPNU, and then move it over to the network," Slive said. "So that rounds out, at least for me, the storytelling. You know, it celebrates great games, great athletes and great moments."

With approximately 45 SEC football games, more than 100 men's basketball games, 60 women's basketball games, 75 baseball games and events from 21 more SEC sports set to air, more such moments will surely be airing live on the SEC Network. Visit GetSECNetwork.com to make sure you can see them.


UK Athletics preparing for SEC Network transition

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Last Friday, thousands of fans across the country tuned in to Fox Sports South to watch as the men's basketball team opened a highly anticipated 2013-14 campaign.

Later that same evening, thousands more around the Bluegrass watched delayed broadcasts of the games on the UK IMG Network.

In recent years, Kentucky fans have come to rely on those avenues to watch their beloved Wildcats, but beginning next season that will all change.

In August 2014, ESPN and the Southeastern Conference will combine forces to launch the new SEC Network. The network will air SEC content 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including 45 SEC football games, more than 100 men's basketball games, 60 women's basketball games, 75 baseball games and events from across the SEC's 21 sports annually.

"The SEC Network will be an incredible asset for our conference and for UK Athletics," UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. "It will provide unprecedented exposure for our teams, but we need the Big Blue Nation to help make it a success."

Many UK games currently televised on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, Fox Sports South, UK IMG Network, CSS and SEC TV will likely be available only the new SEC Network.  With future games like men's basketball's season opener vs. UNC Asheville and the recent football game against Alabama State likely moving to the new SEC Network beginning in 2014-15, fans need to demand their cable and satellite providers carry it. Considering marquee in-conference matchups in both basketball and football will also be televised on the new network, it becomes even more imperative.

The SEC Network launches in nine months, but so far AT&T U-verse is the only national distributor of the network. As of November, providers like Time Warner, DirecTV and Dish Network have not yet made arrangements to carry the SEC Network, meaning subscribers would miss many live UK events.

That's where the Big Blue Nation comes in.

Fans can visit GetSECNetwork.com to check whether their cable and satellite providers carry the SEC Network and, if they do not, contact them to demand they do. Cable and satellite providers make programming decisions based on customer requests. Fans should also regularly check GetSECNetwork.com for the latest information about the launch of the new SEC Network.  

For fans in Lexington that want the new SEC Network, Time Warner subscribers should call 859-514-1400, DirecTV subscribers should call 1-800-347-3288 and DISH Network subscribers should call 1-800-333-3474 to let them know you want the SEC Network. Cable TV subscribers outside Lexington can obtain the phone number to call from GetSECNetwork.com.

Meanwhile, UK Athletics is currently working to prepare for the SEC Network's launch. All live broadcasts -- including the more than 600 that will be streamed live online -- on the SEC Network will have the highest quality production value and maintain a look and feel consistent with ESPN's other networks.

Representatives from the SEC Network have visited all UK Athletics facilities in recent months in advance of the launch. They have found that UK has an advanced technological infrastructure that should make the transition as seamless as possible.

After the launch of the SEC Network next August, more UK events will be televised that ever before. To make sure you can watch, visit GetSECNetwork.com and let your cable and satellite provider know you want access to the SEC Network.

Video: Barnhart and The Wildcat 'brave the blue'

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Once again, UK ranks among the top schools in the nation in merchandise royalties.

On Monday, the Collegiate Licensing Company released royalty rankings for the period from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013. UK comes in fifth, trailing only Texas, Alabama, Notre Dame and Michigan. A season ago, UK was a school-record third on the strength of the 2012 men's basketball national championship. UK is also one of six Southeastern Conference schools in the top 10 in the most recent rankings.

UK Athletics and the university share all merchandise royalties equally. UK Athletics is responsible for all costs associated with managing the licensing program and 90 percent of merchandise sold is athletic-related. Through the merchandise program, UK Athletics has contributed more than $10 million to the university during the Mitch Barnhart era.

Maclin Simpson helped deliver basic necessities to residents of Ethiopia on Sunday. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics) Maclin Simpson helped deliver basic necessities to residents of Ethiopia on Sunday. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
This week, eight Wildcats are taking part in a service trip in Ethiopia. Throughout the week, the student-athletes will take turns describing their experience. Please note that these posts are the personal reactions of the student-athletes and the views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Kentucky and UK Athletics. With the travel party set to return to the United States on Monday, Maclin Simpson writes about what he saw on Sunday.

Maclin Simpson (swimming and diving)

I woke up this morning feeling mixed emotions about the day ahead. On one hand, I was excited for another opportunity to serve the people of Ethiopia with a group of friends I would consider family. On the other, I was anxious because I knew that my expectations were about to be shattered into a million pieces, yet again turning my world upside down.

The day started just like any other. We had breakfast at the guest house followed by a quick meeting before we set out. After reconfirming our flight information, we had about an hour or so to kill so we made our way over to the zoo. I use the term "zoo" loosely because it isn't comparable to anything you would find in the U.S. More or less it was just one massive, circular cage with about ten lions that looked like they could eat any one of us without a moment's hesitation. Regardless, it was still a cool experience.

Then it all changed.

The moment that we got out of the van at the community center, we were swarmed with loving children. It was unbelievable to see the pure joy in their faces just to hold our hands and walk with us. Our task was to fill bags with assorted basic necessities and deliver them to widows and other families. Throughout our time there, the one thing that was constant was how gracious these amazing people were. It didn't matter who we were, just that we came. To them, we were an answered prayer and a gift from God. Every home that we visited (most were about half the size of a dorm room, dark and housing up to seven people) we prayed over the people about whatever physical or emotional discomfort was troubling them. Each time, without fail, they would tell us how much they loved us and prayed that God would bless us and our families. It's incredible that a village and people in such desperate need of financial capital were so content with human capital. The last home we visited was of a widow who suffers from tuberculosis; Jarrod Polson and I literally had to chase after her because she was so excited to invite us into her home and introduce us to her children. We sat, prayed and shared a hug that could have lasted a lifetime. It is those types of moments that make me realize how much of a gift from God life truly is and how much I take for granted on a daily basis. We all left that village changed and with memories that we will never forget.

Tomorrow is our last day here. I am going to miss this place and will forever be grateful for the opportunities given, experiences had, but most importantly for the people that I have met and the relationships I have formed.

Tiara Phipps bonded with Ethiopia natives playing soccer on Saturday. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics) Tiara Phipps bonded with Ethiopia natives playing soccer on Saturday. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
This week, eight Wildcats are taking part in a service trip in Ethiopia. Throughout the week, the student-athletes will take turns describing their experience. Please note that these posts are the personal reactions of the student-athletes and the views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Kentucky and UK Athletics. Tiara Phillips writes about Saturday's activities.

Tiara Phipps (gymnastics)

Day four was like nothing I've ever experienced, which seems to be a common theme for this entire trip.  

9 a.m.: We left the Addis Guest House to head for the soccer fields for what we thought would be our forte: sports. The weather was unfavorable, but not one thing stops the Ethiopians from experiencing life.

9:27 a.m.: One of our translators, an incredibly intelligent mind who has never set foot in a school, told us his story. It's incredible that a young man who learned English in an orphanage, who was thrown into the wild at age 7, and experienced so many things we couldn't even imagine, is as receptive, generous and protective as anyone could ever hope to be. This is one of the huge examples for me of what it takes to be Ethiopian. STRENGTH. The people of this country grow more beautiful to me each day, but it's not an expected beauty, it's unintentional, unorthodox and a beauty that's truly a blessing to witness. We reach the fields after a walk through livestock, and immediately see the kids. They are already passing the ball, and getting dirty and into the game that's king in their nation. Our family is such a mixture of athletes from different sports that we had no idea what to expect from each other when playing soccer, but nevertheless it was fun. We started passing with the children and it's incredible how universal sport is. We speak two completely different languages, yet I was never uncomfortable hitting the ball with my head to a complete foreigner and the same for them with me.

12:45 p.m.: "They're better (at soccer) with their shoes off than we are with cleats on." A hilarious statement by Stephanie Fox at first, but an analogy at second glance. They experience more permanent happiness than I have ever seen with less than I have ever seen. After being made to look foolish by the Ethiopians, we took a little hike to the top of the mountain to find an incredible view and a perfect spot for a mini photo shoot session. The boys took a couple bro pics, and the girls smiled big, then we made fools of ourselves and loved every second of it. Later, after some slight misunderstandings and stop and goes to find a restaurant, we decided on a cultural place with great food and even better entertainment.

7:58 p.m.: This dancing is so athletic, it hurt my shoulders just watching them have the time of their lives with absolutely no breaks. Finally, Jarrod Polson got his shot at being the hero as one of the dancers approached our table, a chant broke out and I'll just say that video is one to watch.

This culture and the lessons it has taught me will stay with me forever, just like I hope the people I've met on this trip will never fade in my memory. I just want to say that I'm blessed beyond belief to be on this trip with this amazing team of people I'm sad I have to leave soon. This little group has become like a little family, and I appreciate every single one of them.

Every single thought on an Ethiopian's mind no matter the situation this entire trip has been on God blessing us, but we are simply His hands and feet. In spite of everything they absolutely need, they need us to be blessed. It's unfathomable the amount of love I'm developing for this country, this team and this culture. With that being said, I thank everyone for their prayers and pray that God blesses every single one of you.

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  • big d: very well said MR BARNHART SO PROUD OF THOSE YOUNG MEN. AND TO CALL MYSELF A BIG BLUE FAN AND read more
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