The University of Kentucky's graduation rate for athletes has reached school-record marks.
According to the NCAA's Graduation Success Rate report released Tuesday, 77 percent of the Wildcats' athletes who started school between the 2001-02 and 2004-05 academic years earned a degree within six years. That rate is an increase of 3 percentage points over last year and the highest it's been in the NCAA's seven years of tracking the data.
The Wildcats' four-year graduation average was 58 percent, breaking the school's previous top mark of 56 percent, which was reached four different times since 1991.
"I'm proud of the ongoing efforts of our student-athletes, coaches and staff in their pursuit of academic achievement," UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. "Most young people will not have the opportunity to play professionally. It is important to give them the tools they can use for the rest of their lives."
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One of Barnhart's goals for UK Athletics is a composite 3.0 grade-point average for all student-athletes. Recent semester GPAs for all student-athletes have been in the 2.9-3.0 range, including an overall GPA of 3.04 in the 2010 spring semester.
Nationally, the average rate for students starting between 2001-02 and 2004-05 was 80 percent, breaking the previous all-time high of 79 set in 2009 and matched in 2010.
"These numbers are real, important indicators of the work we've done," said Walter Harrison, the University of Hartford president and chair of the NCAA's committee on academic performance. "I think about these results and I don't see percentage points as much as I do real students, going off to lead successful lives with better chances than before we began this work."