INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Kentucky’s men’s basketball team was nearly as perfect in the classroom in 2013-14 as it was on the basketball court last season.
On Wednesday, the school often criticized for embracing one-and-done players was singled out by the NCAA for public recognition after finishing among the top 10 percent of men’s basketball teams academically. The team’s actual score will not be released until next week.
The Wildcats and Duke, which won its fifth national championship in April, both made the list.
“I’m proud of what has happened on the court with the Final Fours, national championship and league titles, but I’m just as proud of the commitment our young people make to academics,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “To be honored in this way says a lot about their character and their drive to be lifetime learners.”
Scores are calculated by collecting data on each player from each team. Players earn one point each semester for remaining academically eligible and another point each semester if they stay in school. Any team that finishes in the top 10 percent of its sport or finishes with a perfect score of 1,000 is included.
The Blue Devils have been rewarded for their strong academic performances seven of the last eight years and were one of eight current national championship teams to be recognized. The others are Columbia in fencing, Loyola (Ill.) in men’s volleyball, Stanford in women’s water polo, UCLA in men’s water polo, Colorado in men’s cross country, Connecticut in women’s field hockey and Virginia in men’s tennis.
Kentucky, though, is making its first appearance since 2007-08.
The two other Final Four teams, Wisconsin and Michigan State, did not make the cut. The Badgers have never earned the distinction in men’s basketball although their football team was honored this year. The Spartans were honored three straight years, the last time coming in the 2009-10 academic year.
Also missing out were all four teams from the inaugural College Football Playoff — Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Oregon — and the entire Final Four field on the women’s side: UConn, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Maryland.
A record number of teams, 953, had perfect scores out of the 1,124 honored Wednesday. That’s up 75 teams from last year. And 289 schools had at least one team on the list, an increase of 15 from last year.
“We congratulate each of the teams and individual student-athletes for their dedication to academic success,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “This achievement demonstrates their hard work and the commitment of NCAA member schools to provide students with an opportunity to succeed academically and athletically.”
Dartmouth led the nation with 26 teams honored. Brown, Bucknell and Stanford were tied for second with 19 each.
The Ivy League led all conferences with 110 teams, followed by the Patriot League (105), ACC (82) and Big Ten (74), which had an FBS-high five football teams honored.
Other perennial men’s basketball powers included among the 39 that were recognized included Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas and Louisville.