Cal's Cats score, but not in classroom

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By Larry Rowell

The University of Kentucky's 4-year, $32 million dollar man hired to rejuvenate the men's basketball program has succeeded in satisfying the Big Blue Nation's desire to be the best in the nation - or at least as close as West Virginia let them get to the top.

No one can argue that Coach Cal hasn't restored the shine and luster to what the Cats do on the court.

But someone, preferably Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart, should at least raise an eyebrow at how Cal's Cats are performing in the hallowed halls of academics at UK.

According to a report in the Lexington Herald-Leader, the men's basketball team scored a dismal 2.18 grade point average for the spring semester - last place among all 20 of the school-sponsored athletic teams at the university.

In addition, during the fall 2009 semester, while the Cats were mopping up opponents on the hardwood, they weren't exactly exhibiting the same prowess in the classroom with a 2.025 GPA.

While the Cats were 6-0 against Florida, Georgia, Auburn and Ole Miss during the regular season, they were 0-4 compared to the four teams in terms of GPA.

And the GPA for the University of Louisville men's basketball program? 3.02. Ouch.

I suspect that the vast majority of fans in the big Blue Nation could care less if these players couldn't sign their names, much less graduate from college.

What is more important, hanging championship banners in Rupp Arena and being a jumping-off place for the "one-and-dones" who will bolt to the NBA, or trying to teach these young men - the majority of whom will never play in the NBA - that a college degree is important in today's world?

And, will next season be any better academically for the Cats? Not likely.

According to rivals.com, Kentucky has pulled in the top recruiting class with four five-star prospects and a couple of four-star players joining the 2010-2011 roster.

More questions will be raised about how many of these players will be looking up NBA agent's names at season's end rather than wondering how well they fared in the classroom.

But, as someone once said, "hope springs eternal." Will it be for a banner or for books?

Larry Rowell is a staff writer at the Casey County News in Liberty.