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|University||University of Kentucky|
|Conference(s)||Southeastern Conference[A 1]
Great America Rifle Conference
|NCAA||Division I / FBS|
|Athletics director||Mitch Barnhart|
|Football stadium||Commonwealth Stadium|
|Basketball arena||Rupp Arena (men)
Memorial Coliseum (women)
|Baseball stadium||Cliff Hagan Stadium|
|Mascot||Blue, Scratch, and The Wildcat|
|Fight song||On, On, U of K, Kentucky Fight|
|Colors||Blue and White
The Kentucky Wildcats are the men's and women's intercollegiate athletic squads of the University of Kentucky (UK), a founding member of the Southeastern Conference. Historically, the women's teams and athletes were referred to as the "Lady Kats", but all athletic squads adopted the "Wildcats" nickname in 1995.
Collectively, the fans of the Kentucky Wildcats are often referred to as the Big Blue Nation.
The nickname "Wildcats" became synonymous with UK shortly after a 6–2 football road victory over Illinois on October 9, 1909. Commandant Philip W. Corbusier, then head of the military department at old State University, told a group of students in a chapel service following the game that the Kentucky football team had "fought like Wildcats." Later the name Wildcats became more and more popular among UK followers as well as with members of the media. As a result, the nickname was adopted by the University.
The university adopted blue and white as its official colors in 1892. Originally, however, UK students had decided on blue and light yellow prior to the Kentucky-Centre College football game on December 19, 1887. The shade of blue, which is close to a royal blue, was chosen when a student asked the question, "What color blue?" At the time, Richard C. Stoll (who lettered in football at UK in 1889–94) pulled off his necktie and held it up. The students then adopted that particular shade of blue. A year later, UK students officially dropped the light yellow color for white because the two colors did not look good together.
Teams officially sponsored by the UK athletic program include baseball, men's & women's basketball, men's & women's cross country, football, men's & women's golf, women's gymnastics, men's & women's soccer, softball, men's & women's swimming & diving, men's & women's tennis, men's & women's track & field (indoor & outdoor), women's volleyball, and the coeducational sport of rifle practice.
UK has won 11 national championships with its latest being crowned on April 2, 2012 by the men's basketball team. UK also boasts the 1988 Women's Cross County national championship, 2011 rifle and seven other men's basketball titles. UK was also crowned an NCAA co-champion, after knocking off #1 Oklahoma in the 1951 Sugar Bowl to win the 1950 National Championship in college football.
Beginning in the 1890s, students at the University of Kentucky started scheduling football games with neighboring colleges. The basketball program began on campus in 1902, originally as a women's sport; a men's team was added one year later. Several decades later, in 1930, then-high school coach Adolph Rupp was hired as a basketball coach for the university, a career that would span over 40 years until 1972. During his tenure, he led the Kentucky Wildcats to four NCAA crowns in 1948, 1949, 1951 and 1958. The Wildcats later won a fifth championship under Joe B. Hall in 1978, another in 1996 under Rick Pitino under Orlando "Tubby" Smith in 1998, and its latest in 2012 under Coach John Calipari. Calipari has been the coach since the 2009-2010 season.
In 2007, the university unveiled the Joe Craft Center, a $30 million state-of-the-art basketball practice facility for both the men's and women's teams.
Considered to be an elite NCAA basketball program, the University of Kentucky men's basketball team is the winningest program in the history of college basketball. The team was the first ever Division I squad to reach 2,000 victories after defeating Drexel University on December 21, 2009. Kentucky also leads all NCAA schools in all-time winning percentage (.760) with an all-time record of 2090–694–1.
The men's team has earned a total of eight NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championships, second only to UCLA's eleven championships. UK's eight championships were won by five different coaches – Adolph Rupp in 1948, 1949, 1951 and 1958; Joe B. Hall in 1978; Rick Pitino in 1996; Tubby Smith in 1998; and John Calipari in 2012. Thus, the Wildcats have garnered four (5) NCAA basketball championships in the last fifty-two (52) seasons. Kentucky also won the 1933 Helms National Championship and two NIT Championships in 1946 and 1976. The program has garnered 45 SEC regular season titles. Since the 2009-10 season, John Calipari has coached the Wildcats with a "one-and-done" approach to recruiting, resulting in freshman-laden lineups - including a record 5 first round draft picks in the 2010 NBA Draft and 6 Wildcats taken in the 2012 NBA Draft.
The very first University of Kentucky women's basketball team was organized in 1902, competing for the first time on Feb. 21, 1903. However, in 1924, the University Senate passed a bill to abolish women’s basketball in part because "basketball had proven to be a strenuous sport for boys and therefore was too strenuous for girls." After a 50-year absence, women’s basketball finally reached varsity status in 1974. The team was given the nickname “Lady Kats” and was coached by Sue Feamster.
Led by UK all-time leading scorer Valerie Still, Patty Jo Hedges, and Lea Wise, the Lady Kats won the SEC Tournament in 1982. The following year, the same trio led the team to a #4 ranking in the country, the highest in the team's history.
The team is currently coached by Matthew Mitchell, named as the SEC Coach of the Year in 2010 after leading the 2009–10 team to a surprising 28–8 season in which they set school records for best start, most consecutive SEC wins, best SEC finish, and most wins in a season, culminating in their first NCAA regional final since 1982. The team also had the conference Player of the Year in Victoria Dunlap and Freshman of the Year in A'dia Mathies.
Paul "Bear" Bryant era Paul "Bear" Bryant was Kentucky's head football coach for eight seasons. Under Bryant the Wildcats won the 1947 Great Lakes Bowl, lost the 1950 Orange Bowl, won the 1951 Sugar Bowl and the 1952 Cotton Bowl Classic. In final AP polls, the Wildcats were ranked #11 in 1949, #7 in 1950, #15 in 1951, #20 in 1952 and #16 in 1953. At the time of the win over #1 Oklahoma, the final polls were taken before the bowl games.
Fran Curci era The 1976 Wildcats retroactively claimed a share of the Southeastern Conference championship under coach Fran Curci via a loss later forfeited by Mississippi State (and despite losing at home to conference champion Georgia) and won the Peach Bowl, finishing #18 in the final AP poll. The 1977 Kentucky team went 10–1 and was undefeated in SEC play but, despite finishing the season ranked #6 in the AP poll, did not play in a bowl game due to NCAA sanctions. Kentucky finished at #6 and Penn State at #5 despite the fact that Kentucky defeated Penn State at Penn State during the regular season.
Jerry Claiborne era Coach Jerry Claiborne led the Wildcats to the 1983 Hall of Fame Bowl. In 1984 Kentucky returned to the Hall of Fame Bowl and defeated a ranked Wisconsin team to finish the season with a 9–3 record and a #19 ranking in the final AP poll.
Bill Curry era The Wildcats played in the 1993 Peach Bowl under coach Bill Curry.
Hal Mumme era Coach Hal Mumme led the Wildcats to the 1998 Outback Bowl and the 1999 Music City Bowl but the program was hit with severe sanctions for infractions during Mumme's tenure. On July 23, 2012, the Wildcats were awarded the 1999 Outback Bowl Championship after the title was vacated by Penn State through NCAA sanctions related to the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Guy Morriss era Under coach Guy Morriss the Wildcats posted a 7–5 record in 2002 but were not eligible for postseason play due to NCAA sanctions.
Rich Brooks era Coach Rich Brooks led the team to an 8–5 regular season record in 2006, including a memorable upset over the defending SEC champion Georgia, snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Bulldogs. Brooks also led the football team to its first bowl game since 1999 and its first bowl game victory since 1984, as Kentucky defeated the Clemson University Tigers 28–20 in the Music City Bowl.  On September 15, 2007. Brooks led UK to a 40–34 win over #9 Louisville. This marked UK's first win over a top 10 team since #4 Penn State in 1977. The Wildcats were ranked 8th in the nation before a loss to South Carolina on October 4. After the loss to South Carolina, Kentucky bounced back on October 13 to defeat #1 LSU in an historic triple overtime game.
The 2007 Kentucky Wildcats football defeated the Florida State Seminoles 35–28 in the 2007 Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee, on December 31, 2007. It was the Wildcats second straight bowl appearance. Quarterback Andre' Woodson was named the Music City Bowl MVP for the second year in a row. The last three bowl appearances for the Cats have been in the Music City Bowl, which they have appeared in more than any other SEC team in the conference's affiliation with the game, which dates back to the inaugural game in 1998.
On January 2, 2009 Kentucky football set a record with the schools first back to back to back bowl games. After a bad start in the Liberty Bowl Kentucky made a comeback from a 16–3 deficit at halftime to beat East Carolina 25–19. After a fumble by the East Carolina running back, UK Defensive Tackle Ventrell Jenkins returned the ball over 50 yards for the score that gave Kentucky their first lead of the game.
Joker Phillips era Former Wildcat wide receiver and longtime assistant coach Joker Phillips was formally named head coach January 6, 2010 after Brooks' retirement.  Phillips took Kentucky to the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama in his first season as a head coach, losing to Big East Conference co-champion Pittsburgh 27-10. However, the Wildcats would not return to a bowl in either of the next two seasons. The main highlight of those years came in 2011, when Kentucky defeated Tennessee for the first time since 1984. Phillips was fired in November 2012, effective at season's end.
The baseball program, partly hampered by being the northernmost school in the heavily warm-weather SEC, has historically achieved only modest success at best. Wildcats baseball hit bottom at the turn of the 21st century, with only one winning season from 1997 through 2004, and last-place finishes in the SEC East division in every season from 2001 through 2005. In 2003, after the retirement of longtime coach Keith Madison, Kentucky hired Florida assistant John Cohen as head coach. Cohen was able to lead the Cats to a winning overall season in 2005, despite another SEC cellar finish. In 2008, Cohen left Kentucky to accept the coaching position at Mississippi State University. The current Wildcats coach is former Kentucky assistant Gary Henderson.
Few could have expected the Cinderella season the Cats would have in 2006. They literally went from worst to first in the SEC, winning a regular-season conference title for the first time in three decades, and being ranked as high as fourth in the country by one major baseball poll during the season. However, the newly energized Kentucky baseball faithful saw the Cats crash out of the SEC tournament early and fail to make it out of the regionals of the NCAA tournament at home.
There were high hopes for the 2007 team and for the most part they delivered. After going undefeated at 19–0 they eventually fell against Arkansas They then fell into a tailspin but rebounded at the end of the year to just miss the SEC playoffs after a Tennessee Volunteers win. They finished with a 37–19 record. Jason Kipnis, who was an outfielder for that team, is now a second baseman for the Cleveland Indians.
The University of Kentucky cheerleaders have won the UCA (Division I-A) Cheerleading Championship 19 times, more than any other school. They are the only school to win more than two consecutive championships, having won each year from 1995 through 2002 and from 2004 through 2006, and are the only school to win consecutive championships on multiple occasions, having done so four times (1987–1988, 1995–2002, 2004–2006, and 2008–2010). They have won championships in 1985, 1987, 1988, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012; have also placed second four times, and have finished in the top ten every year since the existence of the UCA National College Championships . The squad has been featured on the "CBS Evening News", Connie Chung's "Eye to Eye", and the "CBS Morning Show", NBC's The Today Show, in "Southern Living" and Gentlemen's Quarterly, "ESPN the Magazine", and "Seventeen" magazines.
A reality show on WE: Women's Entertainment called "Cheerleader U." followed the team during the 2006–2007 season.
The men's and women's golf teams call the University Club of Kentucky their home course. Notable alumni of the golf team include 1967 Masters winner Gay Brewer, current PGA Tour golfers J. B. Holmes and Steve Flesch, and current Champions Tour golfer Russ Cochran.
Notable non varsity teams
UK has a men's hockey team that competes at club level, which means that it is student-operated without university assistance, and they compete in the American Collegiate Hockey Association's Division II level.
The University of Kentucky Hockey Team (founded 1984) competes in the American Collegiate Hockey Association. The "coolcats" play their home games at the Lexington Ice Center. Traditionally the team ranks as the 3rd most popular spectator sport behind Football and Basketball. The hockey program is funded by private funds outside of the athletic department. In 1998 the cats released their first poster featuring actress and UK alum Ashley Judd. Since the debut of the first poster, the cats have issued an annual poster featuring a celebrity with ties to the bluegrass. The program has achieved great success including 3 national tournament appearances, 1992 national runner-up, and 18 winning seasons.
Recently, the Cool Cats simply became the Wildcats. The Wildcats have made a couple good runs the past couple of seasons. This included a regional bid in the 06-07and lost in the final game of the tournament. in the 2007–08 season the cats finished in the national tournament failing to make it out of pool play. All home games are played at the Lexington Ice Center at midnight and the arena is generally full. Still a major sport on UK's campus.
The University of Kentucky has three official mascots:
- Blue — A live bobcat (note that in American English, "wildcat" generally refers to this particular mammal). He lives at the state-operated Salato Wildlife Education Center near the state capital of Frankfort. Unlike the school's two costumed mascots, he never attends games, because bobcats are very shy by nature and do not react well with large crowds.
- The Wildcat — A costumed student, he made his debut in the 1976–77 school year.
- Scratch — A later addition, he is a more child-friendly version of The Wildcat.
All-time records by sport
All records are through 2005–06.
|Swimming and Diving (men)||1936||337||272||1||.552|
|Swimming and Diving (women)||1983–84||148||86||.632|
- Rich Brooks
- Paul "Bear" Bryant
- Keenan Burton
- Jerry Claiborne
- Commonwealth Stadium
- Tim Couch
- Mark Higgs
- Duece Howerton
- Art Still
- Jeff Van Note
- Moe Williams
- Jared Lorenzen
- André Woodson
- Wesley Woodyard
- Craig Yeast
- John Calipari
- DeMarcus Cousins
- Billy Gillispie
- Joe B. Hall
- Rick Pitino
- Adolph Rupp
- Orlando "Tubby" Smith
- Eddie Sutton
- Rajon Rondo
- John Wall
- Myra Blackwelder
- Mallory Blackwelder
- "University of Kentucky Traditions". University of Kentucky. Retrieved 2008-12-28.
- "History Briefs". University of Kentucky. 2007-05-23. Archived from the original on 2007-10-26.
- "A Chronology of UK". University of Kentucky Special Collections & Digital Programs Division. 2 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-02.
- "Women's Basketball Timeline" (PDF). University of Kentucky. 2005. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
- SCRC, Teams, http://www.varsityrugby.com/scrc/contacts.html