As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published July 24, 2013.
A new award honoring academics from the National Association of Basketball Coaches was presented last week and two of the five high-major men’s basketball programs receiving the award were the state’s two most popular institutions: the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky.
The inaugural Team Academic Excellence Awards were given to teams with at least a 3.0 GPA for the 2012-13 season. A total of 96 programs were recognized in NCAA Division I, II and II and NAIA Division I and II.
The Cardinals had a collective 3.295 GPA for the year and a 3.41 in the fall, a record high for the UofL. The Wildcats achieved a 3.23 GPA as a team for the year, which was a team record.
Sometimes we overlook the academic side to the adored college athletes on these two teams. We see them strictly as athletes and forget they are students as well and that their studies should be their number one focus. We allow our children and young people to idolize these stars for their big moments on the basketball courts or elsewhere, but it’s nice when the occasion arises and we realize there is more for children and young people to look up to these athletes for than just their athletic skills.
Having been a college athlete myself, I know that most colleges and universities take great pride in the academics of their athletes. Pushing their athletes to stay focused on school and studies is always a priority of coaches and athletic departments, but for the big schools like UK and UofL, outsiders that just watch the games on TV and keep up online like us never see that side of life for these students. Honestly, I think a lot of us forget they are actually students when the big games, big drafts and rankings come out.
I find it great that these two universities who have basketball programs we love to follow were made up of players who had such success in the classroom this past year. I hope both programs continue to pursue athletes who show the same dedication in the classroom as they do on the court. I hope they continue to push their athletes to be dedicated to both as well.
And we should always remind our children and young people looking up to college athletes the importance of learning exactly what dedication is and while it is important to be dedicated to the sport and team and you love, your studies deserve dedication as well.