The University of Kentucky sent out a release Tuesday afternoon touting the 3.04 cumulative GPA its athletic department posted this past semester as its best academic performance in at least eight years.
Not surprisingly, it took more than 500 words before the men's basketball program was mentioned.
To coach John Calipari's credit, his team's 2.18 spring semester GPA represented a slight improvement over the ghastly 2.025 the Wildcats scored in the fall. Of course, skeptics will rightfully note that it's not hard to make progress when your program performed worse in the classroom than any of Kentucky's other teams the previous semester.
"With such a relatively small number of athletes, a bad semester from one or two kids can bring down the GPA significantly," Calipari wrote on his blog Tuesday. "A GPA just under 2.2 is not what we hoped for. But for the most part, every player improved from the fall semester and most finished strong. With all that was swirling for this team and all the scrutiny and pressure, our guys buckled down and did what they had to move our GPA in the right direction."
Kentucky fans have been quick to come to Calipari's defense when others question his recruiting tactics, but this year's academic failures ought to be universally condemned. If 13 of the Wildcats' 22 teams managed to put up at least a 3.0 semester GPA, then shouldn't the basketball program be expected to manage at least a 2.5?
Many folks have been quick to point out that Kentucky's GPA would have risen to nearly a 2.4 had Daniel Orton not reportedly dropped out mid-semester, but this can't be blamed entirely on the five underclassmen who turned pro. Patrick Patterson graduated, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe reportedly finished their classes and John Wall proudly Tweeted he earned a 3.5 spring semester GPA to go with all As and Bs during the fall.
The lone silver lining for Kentucky is that the program doesn't appear to be in any jeopardy of losing scholarships as a result of an APR violation.
"I fully expect the next wave of criticism will be directed at the APR and the haters will say, 'If Kentucky doesn't lose scholarships then the APR isn't working,'" Calipari wrote. "That will be their rallying cry. I'm just not sure they'd feel that way if it were another school."