UK to unveil scholarship drive before game

The University of Kentucky will announce a major new fund-raising campaign aimed at generating student scholarships during half-time of Saturday's men's basketball game.

UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. has dropped a few clues in recent months that another coordinated push for donations was in the works.

"We've kind of hinted that we'll do a major scholarship fund-raising — more need-based scholarships, in particular," he said in an interview after the December board of trustees meeting.

For instance, he cited the Robinson Scholars Program, which identifies promising Eastern Kentucky students entering high school and provides education support and a full ride to UK. Usually the Robinson Scholars are the first in their families to go to college.

Last year, the UK Athletics Department pledged $500,000 to bolster the Robinson Scholars fund.

Todd will provide details about the new effort during halftime of the Wildcats' prime time match-up with Tennessee that will be featured on ESPN. Tip-off is 9 p.m.

Todd has repeatedly said the university must increase those programs and scholarships to help ease the burden of rising tuition, especially as public universities across the state and country rely more on tuition income as state funding gets cut.

UK's last major fund-raising effort surpassed $1 billion in April 2007. Much of that money helped establish fellowships, professorships and endowed chairs and was helped by $208 million in state "Bucks for Brains" money, which matched private contributions.