Kentucky Basketball: John Calipari Touts 100% Graduation Rate, Correctly

Brandon Knight would have been an academic senior in his second year at Kentucky. - Andy Lyons

10 out of 10 is 100%, even by Hoosier math.

John Calipari put out this post on his blog yesterday touting Kentucky’s academics in the basketball program under his regime. This, as you might expect, drew a lot of negative commentary on Twitter, with the usual suspects deriding Calipari’s claim of a 100% graduation rate. Calipari put it this way:

But why is that the only thing people talk about with us? Why just one-and-done? Why don’t we ever discuss the incredible academic marks we have achieved over the last four years?

Of our 10 players who have been eligible to graduate by the end of their senior years, all 10 will have graduated after this weekend. For you math majors out there, that’s 100 percent. We’ve also had a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average over the last three years.

Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) of Sports Illustrated joined the derision, calling Calipari’s announcement of his piece on Twitter, calling it a "humblebrag:"

Calipari’s piece was neither humble nor bragging – it was a statement of fact, nothing more and nothing less. It offers a counterpoint to the justifiable perception that Kentucky is just a temporary stopover to the NBA. Many rivals find this to be inconvenient to their argument that Calipari is not interested at all in academics. The media, of course, piled on with snarky tweets like this one from ESPN Insider editor, Greg Rosenstein:

Yeah, no bias there. None. Nada. Just ignore the sarcasm, UK fans, I'm sure he meant it to be completely neutral.

Of course, this was picked up by Indiana fans, Louisville fans and what-not, and retweeted around the Twitterverse. I suspect not one of them read his blog post, and since neither Rosenstein nor Glockner bothered to link it, I figure they didn’t, read it, either.

Person after person demanded an explanation of how it is possible for Kentucky, famous for sending players to the NBA early, to have achieved a perfect graduation rate. Apparently, these people know how to type well enough to grind out 140 characters of smart-Alec, but can’t solve enough of the Internet’s mysteries to locate Calipari’s blog post, or his Twitter or Facebook account to answer their own question. Since Coach Cal has millions of followers on Twitter and vast numbers of Facebook followers, it must be really hard to locate his blog, CoachCal.com, a name apparently too cryptic even for Rosenstein and Glockner.

Calipari’s success at Kentucky has been remarkable, both athletically and academically. Despite the mocking comments of the Twits, very few schools do better at graduating players over four years; and even though those who opt for NBA early entry aren’t counted among them, they don’t count against either. Therefore, as far as the NCAA is concerned, Kentucky has had a 100% graduation rate of counters.

There is one point Calipari does not mention, and in fairness, it needs to be, although it was correct for him not to do so. Daniel Orton, a 2010 player, did not finish his spring semester and wasn’t in good academic standing when he left school. This fact is currently holding Kentucky’s APR down to 963. Without Orton’s unfortunate decision, it would be even higher. Orton is the only player ever during Calipari's tenure to leave in poor academic standing.

There will never be peace between the "education first at all costs (EFAOC)" crowd and the more pragmatic, "strike while the iron is hot" group, and I’m certainly not about to offer an olive branch. The idea that a college education is worth millions of dollars has been studied, and disproven, when it comes to most degree fields (Note that advanced degrees are not included, and are more valuable than 4-year degrees). A four-year degree in engineering, based on a study done recently, would earn $1.2 million over a lifetime, about twice what a high school diploma would earn.

NBA rookies drafted in the first round this year will earn at minimum $1.8 million dollars over their two-year guaranteed contract. In other words, they will earn 33% more in two years, roughly, than a 4-year engineering degree will earn in an entire lifetime. The EFAOC crowd, ironically, isn’t smart enough to do that math. Either that, or they just ignore it because it’s inconvenient to their argument.

Anyway, please excuse the digression, but the upshot is that if you want a four-year degree, you can come to Kentucky and get it. If you want to get your money faster via the NBA, that option is available, too.

Can you say, "Best of both worlds," boys and girls? I knew you could.

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