When Rick Pitino raised a stink last summer about the University of Kentucky not hosting a 20-year reunion for his Wildcats’ 1996 national championship basketball team, UK responded by saying (a. it had previously recognized that team with a ring ceremony in 2013 and, b.) the school was busy establishing a new protocol for honoring its teams.
The climax of UK’s work in that regard was revealed Wednesday.
The school announced it has formed a reunion committee to honor elite teams from its past.
That committee selected 14 teams across six athletic programs to be honored during the 2017-18 school year.
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Teams to be recognized in 2017-18 include the 2006-08 Kentucky football teams, the 1978 men’s basketball team, Adolph Rupp’s men’s basketball national championship teams (1948, ’49, ’51 and ’58), the 1988 baseball team, the 1987 and ’88 volleyball teams, the 1988 men’s tennis team, and the 1986 and ’88 women’s golf teams.
Standards for selecting teams each year will include but are not limited to final records, conference championships and postseason finishes. The committee will place emphasis on honoring teams that coincide with yearly markers (for example, a 25th anniversary of a team’s championship), although other factors will be taken into consideration. Special attention was placed this year on teams that would typically fall outside the committee’s reunion windows moving forward.
Dates for each group reunion are to be determined. Due to roster crossover and shared accomplishments, several teams will be honored together.
Here is a closer look at the teams to be honored:
1978 men’s basketball team — Captured UK’s fifth men’s basketball national championship as well as the SEC regular-season title.
Adolph Rupp’s national championship teams (1948, ’49, ’51, ’58) — Kentucky’s first four men’s basketball national champions also combined for four regular-season SEC championships and two SEC Tournament crowns.
2006-08 football teams — Won three straight bowl games for the first time in school history.
1988 baseball team — Came within one win of becoming the only team in school history to advance to the College World Series.
1987 and ’88 volleyball teams — Captured the program’s two most recent SEC regular-season and tournament titles.
1988 men’s tennis team — Advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA championships, tied for the best finish in school history.
1986 and 1988 women’s golf teams — Finished fifth at the NCAA championships in 1986, the best finish in school history, and 10th in 1988.