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UK teams reach APR requirements once more

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The NCAA released new Academic Progress Rates on Tuesday and, once again, the University of Kentucky's 22 teams surpassed requirements and avoided any penalties.

This release has more information on the news and the APR - which the NCAA uses to measure academic eligibility and student-athlete retention - but here are some additional notes.

  • As you can see in the chart below, 14 of UK's 22 teams exceeded the national average APR score for their respective sports, led by men's and women's golf with perfect scores of 1,000. Additionally, 15 UK teams exceeded the average public school APR for their respective sports.
  • The emphasis on APR scores has increased in recent years and UK has responded. Seventeen teams have improved their scores since 2004-05 and 16 improved or received the same score compared to last year.
  • APR requirements will become even more stringent next year. To maintain postseason eligibility will require either a 930 four-year APR or a 940 two-year average beginning in 2015. Even though the new threshold is a year away from coming into effect, UK's scores also exceed those tougher requirements.
  • Below is a chart with UK's four-year APR scores by sport this year, last year and in the first year of the APR, as well as national averages.

11-12 APR.jpg

m6340297_514x260-logo.jpg Like the rest of the country, Mark Stoops and Mitch Barnhart have kept close tabs on this week's tragic events in Oklahoma. The UK head coach and athletics director shared compassion for the victims of Monday's destructive tornado.

They also share personal ties to the area. Barnhart and Stoops each have family who lives within a few miles of Moore, Okla.: Barnhart's brother Eric, Stoops' brothers Bob and Mike and the families of all three.

Driven by sympathy and familiarity with the area and people affected, Stoops and Barnhart have decided to do something to help.

"I have kept a close eye on the tragic events in Oklahoma this week," Barnhart said. "My heart goes out to all those affected. My brother Eric lives three miles from where the tornado hit, so the devastation has hit close to home for me even though he is safe."

"I am so thankful my family and friends are alright after the storms in Oklahoma," Stoops said. "However, we are heartbroken for those affected by this tragedy."

Stoops, Barnhart and women's basketball coach Matthew Mitchell will all donate to the American Red Cross's tornado relief efforts. John Calipari announced his foundation will donate to the cause earlier this week as well.

Now, the leaders of UK Athletics want Kentucky fans to join in.

"We hope the Big Blue Nation will once again show its giving spirit," Stoops said. "There's only so much any of us can do on our own, but we make a real impact together."

Those wishing to donate after may call 859-253-1331 or 1-800-REDCROSS. Fans can also donate money online at RedCross.org or by texting "REDCROSS" to 90999 (the text will automatically donate $10). In person donations can be made in-person at Fayette Mall (corner of Nicholasville Road and Reynolds Road) on Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24 from 3:00 p.m. ET to 7:00 p.m.

No matter how you donate, tweet with the hash tag #BBNcares to show that UK fans stand with the Oklahoma tornado victims.

K Fund introduces 'Big Blue Initiative'

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Big-Blue-Initiative2-1024x256.jpg Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, UK Athletics operates as one of the only self-sufficient departments in the nation. Each day, we work to prove ourselves worthy of that support.

This year, we are proud of our efforts. We are on pace for the best Directors' Cup finish in school history - we rank 20th after the conclusion of the winter sports season - and our student-athletes have excelled in the classroom and the community as well.

But at the annual CATSPY Awards in April, Mitch Barnhart challenged everyone involved with UK Athletics to do more. He challenged student-athletes, coaches and staff to become the nation's best overall athletic department.

It is with that in mind that the K Fund introduces the "Big Blue Initiative."

From May 1 through June 30, the program - which is entirely philanthropic - will offer the opportunity to impact the lives of our student-athletes and Invest In Blue once more. Each dollar will go into our annual fund, which ensures the success of the student-athletes, providing everything from scholarships to athletic equipment to books to meals. We will be sending more information about the Big Blue Initiative to current donors in the coming days and weeks.

To join, donors need only increase their annual giving by 15 percent. If you gave $100 in 2012-13, we are asking that you give an additional $15 before June 30. If you gave $1,000 in 2012-13, that means an additional $150.

Beyond helping UK push toward our athletics director's bold vision, participants will receive the added benefit of a tax deduction and five bonus K Fund points on top of the regular three points per $100 donation.

To become the country's top athletic department, it will take tireless effort and determination on the part of our coaches, but it won't be possible at all without your support. Please consider taking this important step with us.

If you have any questions about the Big Blue Initiative, feel free to contact the K Fund at 859-257-6300 or visit KFundonline.com.

With competition in NCAA-sanctioned winter sports in the books, UK Athletics is on pace for the best Directors' Cup finish in school history. UK ranks 20th in the latest standings, one of the key metrics used by Mitch Barnhart to evaluate the program's progress in competition.

With spring sports still in action on the field, a historic 2012-13 is already secure for UK Athletics in the classroom.

UK's competing scholarship student-athletes combined for a cumulative grade-point average of 3.14 this spring, the highest for a single semester during Barnhart's tenure. The record academic semester comes on the heels of a fall semester during which competing scholarship student-athletes combined for a 3.030 GPA.

"When I established the goal of a 3.0 overall GPA for our department, I knew I was setting the bar high," Barnhart said. "To reach it for an entire athletic year for the first time is an accomplishment our student-athletes should be very proud of. I commend and thank them for their hard work."

***See below for complete grade information for each sport***

Sixteen of UK's 20 teams had GPAs of 3.0 or better, led by women's tennis at 3.69. Four teams joined women's tennis in posting GPAs higher than 3.5: women's soccer (3.62), women's swimming and diving (3.60), women's cross country (3.59) and women's golf (3.53). Leading the way for the Wildcat men's teams was men's basketball at 3.39.

"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."

The collective achievement this spring has been matched by numerous individual accomplishments as well, as 47 scholarship student-athletes earned a 4.0 this spring semester. In addition, 39 percent of scholarship athletes had GPAs of 3.5 or better and 70 percent were at 3.0 or better. UK also led all Southeastern Conference schools with 57 student-athletes on the league's Winter Sports Academic Honor Roll.

Not included in that group because her sport is not played in the winter is Chelsea Oswald (women's cross country/track), but she was named the SEC's H. Boyd McWhorter Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year in April. Megan Moir (women's golf) also was named the Brad Davis SEC Female Community Service Leader of the Year, marking the first time since 1999 UK student-athletes have won both prestigious conference awards.

Note: All GPAs listed above are for competing scholarship student-athletes only. GPAs including non-scholarship athletes are listed in the chart below.

Sport Competing Scholarship Competing Scholarship
and Non-Scholarship
Baseball 3.07 3.01
Men's Basketball 3.39 3.40
Women's Basketball 2.65 2.68
Men's Cross Country 2.79 2.85
Women's Cross Country 3.59 3.59
Football 2.71 2.65
Men's Golf 3.01 3.01
Women's Golf 3.53 3.53
Gymnastics 3.08 3.23
Rifle 3.01 3.00
Men's Soccer 3.36 3.27
Women's Soccer 3.62 3.62
Softball 3.38 3.38
Men's Swimming and Diving 3.12 3.12
Women's Swimming and Diving 3.60 3.60
Men's Tennis 3.12 3.19
Women's Tennis 3.69 3.70
Men's Track 2.84 2.86
Women's Track 3.14 3.20
Volleyball 3.39 3.31
     
Men's Sports 2.96 2.92
Women's Sports 3.38 3.39
Overall 3.14 3.09

Video: SEC Network trailer

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The University of Kentucky celebrated its 146th May Commencement on Sunday. (photo by Mark Cornelison) The University of Kentucky celebrated its 146th May Commencement on Sunday. (photo by Mark Cornelison)
During the University of Kentucky's 146 May Commencement on Sunday, 49 UK student-athletes received degrees. Forty-seven earned undergraduate diplomas and two received graduate degrees.

(Note: Includes student-athletes who received degrees after their completing eligibility.)

Baseball
Thomas McCarthy
Zac Zellers (Will complete coursework this summer)

Football
Aaron Boyd
La'Rod King
Quentin McCord
Craig McIntosh
Kevin Mitchell
Matt Smith
Taylor Wyndham
(Note: 2012 seniors Mikie Benton, Gabe Correll, Gene McCaskill, Morgan Newton, Cartier Rice, Collins Ukwu, Steven Duff and Sam Simpson graduated previously.)

Gymnastics
Caitlyn Ciokajlo
Storey Morris
Whitney Rose

Men's basketball
Twany Beckham
Marquis Estill
Jon Hood
Jarrod Polson (Graduated in three years)
(Note: Jamal Mashburn also received an honorary doctorate of humanities.)

Men's golf
Joseph Barr

Men's soccer
Pedro Andreoni
Gabriel Conelian
Barry Rice

Men's swimming and diving
Jon Bullock
Jon Keltner
Ben Russell

Rifle
Heather Greathouse

Softball
Chanda Bell
Kara Dill (Graduate degree in exercise science)
Alice O'Brien
Erika Silence

Track and field
Katy Achtien
Keith Hayes
Ben Mason (Will complete coursework this summer)
Chelsea Oswald
Shiara Robinson
Josh Nadzam (Masters of social work)
Danielle Sampley
Rashaud Scott
Samantha Stenzel
Hiruni Wijayaratne
Megan Wright

Volleyball
No graduates this weekend, but seniors Ashley Frazier and Christine Hartmann had already graduated.

Women's basketball
A'dia Mathies
Crystal Riley

Women's golf
Megan Moir

Women's soccer
Natalie Horner
Brooke Keyes

Women's swimming and diving
Megan Eppler
Lindsay Lash
Mandy Myers
Sherrill Thompson

Women's tennis
Khristina Blajkevitch

On Sunday, 49 current and former student-athletes participated in the University of Kentucky's 146th May Commencement. If you were on Twitter, you likely saw many photos of the graduates floating around, but I figured I would collect them all below. Take a look:

A view of Rupp Arena at graduation ceremonies. (Mark Cornelison) A view of Rupp Arena during graduation ceremonies. (photo by Mark Cornelison)

UK president Eli Capilouto addresses the crowd at Rupp Arena. (Mark Cornelison) UK president Eli Capilouto addresses the crowd at Rupp Arena. (photo by Mark Cornelison)
Graduates Jarrod Polson and Jon Hood with John Calipari. (photo by Mark Cornelison) Graduates Jarrod Polson and Jon Hood with John Calipari. (photo by Mark Cornelison)
Women's basketball graduate Crystal Riley with Matthew Mitchell, assistant coaches Danielle Santos (second from left) and Shalon Pillow (far right) and academic advisor Tiffany Hayden (far left). (photo posted by @ukhoopcats on Instagram) Women's basketball graduate Crystal Riley with Matthew Mitchell, assistant coaches Danielle Santos (second from left) and Shalon Pillow (far right) and academic advisor Tiffany Hayden (far left). (photo posted by @ukhoopcats on Instagram)
Women's basketball graduate A'dia Mathies with academic advisor Tiffany Hayden (left) and assistant coach Shalon Pillow (right). (photo posted by @ukhoopcats on Instagram) Women's basketball graduate A'dia Mathies with academic advisor Tiffany Hayden (left) and assistant coach Shalon Pillow (right). (photo posted by @ukhoopcats on Instagram)
Baseball graduate Thomas McCarthy with academic advisor Michael Stone and John Calipari. (photo via @UKMichaelStone on Twitter) Baseball graduate Thomas McCarthy with academic advisor Michael Stone and John Calipari. (photo via @UKMichaelStone on Twitter)
Men's basketball graduate Twany Beckham with John Calipari (left) and academic advisor Michael Stone. (photo via @UKMichaelStone on Twitter) Men's basketball graduate Twany Beckham with John Calipari (left) and academic advisor Michael Stone. (photo via @UKMichaelStone on Twitter)
John Calipari with UK graduates in the new Rupp Arena locker room. (photo via @UKCoachCalipari on Twitter) John Calipari with UK graduates in the new Rupp Arena locker room. (photo via @UKCoachCalipari on Twitter)
Men's basketball great Jamal Mashburn received an honorary doctorate of humanities on Sunday. (photo via Kelley Bozeman) Men's basketball great Jamal Mashburn received an honorary doctorate of humanities on Sunday. (photo via Kelley Bozeman)
Jarrod Polson and Jon Hood with John Calipari and academic advisor Michael Stone. (photo via @UKCoachCalipari on Twitter) Jarrod Polson and Jon Hood with John Calipari and academic advisor Michael Stone. (photo via @UKCoachCalipari on Twitter)

SEC Network to launch in August 2014

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SEC Network logo.jpg RELEASE FROM SECDIGITALNETWORK.COM

ATLANTA -- The Southeastern Conference and ESPN have signed a 20-year agreement through 2034 to create and operate a multiplatform network, which will launch in August 2014, it was announced today by SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and ESPN President John Skipper. The new network and its accompanying digital platform will air SEC content 24/7 including more than 1,000 events in its first year.

The network will televise approximately 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. Programming will also include studio shows, original content such as SEC Storied, spring football games, signing day and pro days coverage. Hundreds of additional live events from various sports will be offered exclusively on the digital platform. The network and its digital extensions will connect with each SEC institution and create opportunities for each school to produce and develop content.

"The SEC Network will provide an unparalleled fan experience of top quality SEC content presented across the television network and its accompanying digital platforms," stated Slive. "We will increase exposure of SEC athletics programs at all 14 member institutions, as we showcase the incredible student-athletes in our league. The agreement for a network streamlines and completes an overall media rights package that will continue the SEC's leadership for the foreseeable future."    

Each weekend throughout the season, the new network will air multiple top-tier matchups from the strongest conference in college football. Since 2006, the SEC has claimed seven consecutive football national championships.  In 2011-12, SEC teams won eight national championships: football (Alabama), men's basketball (Kentucky), gymnastics (Alabama), men's indoor track and field (Florida), women's tennis (Florida), women's golf (Alabama), men's outdoor track and field (Florida), and softball (Alabama). Since 1990, the SEC has won 149 national team championships for an average of more than six per year.

Skipper said, "The SEC is unmatched in its success on the field and its popularity with fans nationwide. The new network's top-quality SEC matchups across a range of sports will serve all sports enthusiasts including the most passionate, die-hard SEC fans. Also, it will serve the needs of our multichannel distributors and advertisers by providing extremely attractive programming options across all platforms."

As part of the agreement, ESPN will now oversee the SEC's official Corporate Sponsor Program. In addition, ESPN and the SEC also agreed to extend their existing media rights agreement through 2034. ESPN has televised the SEC since 1982.  ESPN's existing networks present more than 1,600 hours of SEC action each year. The new network will focus exclusively on the SEC and add another outlet to deliver sports fans more SEC content than ever.

AT&T U-verseĀ® has been secured as the network's first national distributor. AT&T U-verse is the fastest growing TV provider in the U.S. and their subscribers will have access to an unprecedented amount of SEC content across all platforms.  Subscribers receiving the live linear network via a multichannel subscription will also have access to the network on PCs, tablets, smartphones and select gaming devices like Xbox. Additional games and coverage will be available through an authenticated digital offering. Fans looking to learn more about how to get the SEC Network can visit GetSECNetwork.com for more information.

"We are pleased to be involved with the SEC and ESPN at the very beginning of this great alliance," said Jeff Weber, President of Content and Advertising Sales, AT&T. "As the fastest growing and most advanced pay TV service, we want to bring our customers the highest value and most compelling product that we possibly can. Access to the SEC Network, across multiple platforms, will only increase the demand for U-verse."

ESPN's Justin Connolly, formerly senior vice president, ESPN affiliate sales and marketing, will oversee the network's day-to-day operations. The network will originate from ESPN's Charlotte, N.C., offices with additional staff located at the company's Bristol, Conn., headquarters. Staff announcements and additional details will be made in the coming months.

SEC Network FAQ
Get SEC Network

Video: Live stream of SEC/ESPN announcement

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