UK Athletics to Deepen Investment in Center for Academic and Tutorial Services

Feb. 24, 2015

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The University of Kentucky's Center for Academic and Tutorial Services (CATS) - the first-of-its-kind support program in the nation for student athletes - will be expanded to include an additional tutorial center on the south side of the Lexington campus. Fundraising for the center, which will be located within the new football training complex adjacent to Commonwealth Stadium, is currently underway and UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart announced an initiative to augment the fundraising effort Tuesday.

"Serving our student-athletes, as well as positioning them for success after they leave UK, remains our primary goal as a department," Barnhart said. "With this unique partnership, we are taking an important step in securing the resources needed to continue to serve them through CATS."

Entry rendering
A rendering of the entry corridor

This significant fundraising initiative will be led by Maker's Mark and Keeneland, with hopes to raise $2 million for the center over the next five years through their own contributions and from the proceeds of sales of special commemoratives bottles of the distillery's handmade bourbon.

"Education was so important to my grandparents, who created Maker's Mark," said Maker's Chief Operating Officer Rob Samuels. "They also believed in giving back to the community, and the CATS program is a great way to do that."

The first commemorative bottle in the series will feature UK basketball coaching legend Adolph Rupp and will be available on store shelves later this spring.

A rendering of the second level

"Coach Rupp was not only a peerless basketball coach, but also a dedicated educator," explained UK's Barnhart. "We can't think of a better figure to kick off this series, and we're so glad that Maker's Mark agreed."

Another element to the fundraising effort is a challenge for other companies to raise a matching $2 million, and Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason announced today that Keeneland will be the first take up the cause.

"Keeneland shares UK's commitment to excellence in education and its dedication to bettering the lives of its students and community," Thomason said. "In support of UK and the CATS program, Keeneland is proud to kick off the fundraising campaign by pledging $100,000 over the next five years to the initiative. We ask 19 other organizations to join us in this worthy effort. "

Any companies or groups wanting to participate in the challenge should contact the UK Athletics office.

CATS - the first center of its kind dedicated solely to student-athletes - provides primary academic support for UK's more than 500 student-athletes. UK has posted a department-wide cumulative grade-point average of better than 3.0 in five consecutive semesters and set school records for graduation rates in every year since the NCAA's Graduation Success Rate was introduced in 2005. In 2014 alone, 94 current and former student-athletes completed their UK degrees.