UK Athletics has a strong winning tradition at the University of Kentucky, and the 2011-12 year was a special example of that.
The UK men's basketball team, traditionally a national powerhouse, captured the NCAA championship in New Orleans April 2, 2012. Freshman Wildcat stand-out Anthony Davis, who broke several UK records, also brought home top national awards including The John Wooden Award and the Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year award. He's also a member of the USA Olympic basketball team.
The national championship, UK's eighth in school history, was celebrated throughout Kentucky. The team was welcomed back to Lexington by cheering fans who filled Rupp Arena for a special ceremony, followed a few days later by what is hoped to become a new tradition -- the UK Men's Basketball National Championship Trophy Tour. To the delight of Big Blue Nation, Wildcat Coach John Calipari and his staff traveled around the state, making stops in seven cities, to allow fans to see and photograph the National Championship Trophy.
The UK cheerleading program has become legendary in its pursuit of a winning tradition. For a record 19th time, the Wildcats won the Universal Cheerleader Association national title at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in January 2012. The championship is UK's fourth in five years and seventh in the last nine. UK has failed to win the national championship just three times since 1995 and has reclaimed the title in the following year each time.
UK's rifle team continued it outstanding tradition. Behind a team-best 587 from Emily Holsopple and a 585 from Henri Junghänel, the Kentucky rifle team captured its second consecutive national championship in smallbore during the 2011-12 NCAA Championships. The team placed second overall at the championships, the fifth all-time runner-up finish at the NCAA. The Wildcats won the overall NCAA Championship for the first time in program history during the 2010-11 season.
The UK women's basketball team delivered a successful season making it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. It is the first time in UK Hoops history the team has made a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Junior guard A’dia Mathies was named to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association All-America Team, becoming the second Wildcat to ever earn the honor.
2011-12 proved exceptional for other teams as well, including men's tennis -- the 2012 SEC Champions behind a perfect 11-0 regular season, with Coach Dennis Emery being named SEC Coach of the Year and Eric Quigley winning SEC Player of the Year honors and being named one of two national recipients of the ITA/Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
The UK baseball team had a fantastic year completing its regular season with 41 wins, which ties the most wins in a season in the history of the baseball program. The team also was ranked No. 1 in the country twice during the regular season -- a first. The Wildcats led the SEC in eight of 10 weeks and performed well in the SEC tournament. Baseball Coach Gary Henderson was named the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year and centerfielder Austin Cousino was named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year by SEbaseball.com. (still playing - can update later)
Several other UK sports teams experienced exciting and successful seasons as well. And it is important to note that success has come on and off the playing surface. UK student athletes have been successful in the classroom. UK ranks high among SEC schools with student athletes named to the SEC honor roll. UK also shows continued improvement in its graduation rate of student athletes. In fall 2011, the NCAA annual graduation rates report reflected school-records by UK in the NCAA Graduation Success Rate and the Federal Graduation Rate. The improvements reflect UK Athletics' emphasis on academic success.