Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari cited a team grade-point average of 3.12 for the spring semester of 2012 as conclusive evidence that critics are wrong to suggest so-called one-and-done players are not college students.
Noting that the UK team's GPA included five players who entered this year's NBA Draft, Calipari said in a statement released Friday that "all this stuff bitter old men say that they don't go to class, it's not true."
Three of those early entrants to the NBA Draft — freshmen Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague — combined for a grade-point average of "well above 3.0," UK said in a news release.
The UK news release called the men's basketball team "the most high-profile example in a department full of student-athletes committed to excelling both on and off the field."
The team's two seniors — Darius Miller and Eloy Vargas — graduated in May.
Overall, UK's scholarship athletes had a grade-point average of 2.98 in the spring semester. That marked the second straight semester that the athletes barely fell short of Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart's goal of 3.0.
Noting how UK will work "tirelessly" toward achieving the overall 3.0, Barnhart said in a statement, "I am happy with the academic culture we have fostered at UK."
Women's tennis had the highest grade-point average counting only scholarship athletes at 3.58. Among men's teams, cross country had the best grade-point average: 3.38.
Counting only scholarship athletes, men's basketball was among 13 of UK's 20 teams that achieved a 3.0 or better grade-point average.
The men's basketball team's spring grade-point average of 3.12, which included walk-on players, marked the second-best GPA for a semester in Calipari's three seasons. In the spring of 2011, UK said the men's basketball team had a GPA of 3.14.
In UK's announcement of its team grade-point averages for the spring of 2011, Calipari posted a comment in which he said that the GPA represented "the TRUE philosophy" of the school's desire for classroom achievement by athletes.
Earlier that spring, Hall of Fame Coach Bob Knight disparaged the academic achievements of so-called one-and-done players. He mistakenly said that UK's five starters in the 2010 NCAA Tournament did not attend a class in the spring semester. He later apologized.
Earlier this week, a group representing college faculty across the country issued a statement bluntly questioning UK basketball's attachment to the school's academic mission. The group, the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics, said in a statement that UK basketball "is no longer designed to provide students pursuing a college education the opportunity to compete. It is designed to train professional basketball players."
The Coalition has representatives from 59 Football Subdivision programs (including nine of the 12 Southeastern Conference schools).
For men's basketball, the four highest-semester grade-point averages have come in Calipari's last two seasons as coach.
Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com