Basketball school? Football school? Everything school


Kentucky celebrates after scoring a point during the University of Kentucky vs. Missouri volleyball game on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 3-0. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Cole Parke

The University of Kentucky has held a long-standing reputation in the world of collegiate athletics as a “basketball school.”

For years, UK has been renowned for the legendary men’s program led by John Calipari. With 2,329 wins and eight National Championships, Kentucky is the winningest NCAA Division I program in history. The dominance of the program had cast a shadow over the rest of UK’s athletic programs, most of which have struggled in recent history.

With the basketball regular season on the horizon, Calipari’s Cats are no longer the lone program finding success this year. As the end of October approaches, seven different UK Athletics teams are currently ranked in the top 15 of their respective sport.

Kentucky football has grabbed headlines this fall as the team enters the second half of their season with a 6-1 record, with their lone loss coming against No. 1 Georgia in Athens. The program is performing its best since 1950 and currently holds the No. 15 spot in the latest AP Top 25 Poll.


Kentucky volleyball currently stands at No. 5, following a sweep of Arkansas at Memorial Coliseum to improve to 15-3 and remain undefeated in the SEC at 8-0. The Cats are the reigning National Champions, outlasting the Texas Longhorns in the 2020-21 title match to cap off a 24-1 season.

Kentucky men’s soccer currently stands as the highest ranked program of the bunch, sitting at No. 4 in the latest United Soccer Coaches Poll. The Wildcats are undefeated through 14 games for the first time in team history, breaking the previous record set in 2018. UK has just two matches left on its schedule before competing for the C-USA Championship.

Kentucky rifle is currently 1-0 and No. 10 in the country after winning its season opener against No. 12 Morehead State. 

Like volleyball, rifle is fresh off of a 2021 National Championship. The roster boasts not one but two Olympic medalists from the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. Will Shaner took home the gold in men’s 10-meter air rifle, while Mary Tucker won silver in the women’s 10-meter air rifle.

UK’s women’s swimming and diving team currently stands at No. 12. The Cats have taken home victories at Miami (OH), Ohio and Indiana State, with the bulk of their schedule still yet to come. 

Not to be outdone, the men’s and women’s basketball teams hold familiar spots in the preseason rankings.

The men’s team, despite an abysmal 2020-2021 campaign, starts the season ranked No. 10 in the country. The Wildcats will be looking to return to form with notable transfers like former West Virginia Mountaineer Oscar Tshiebwe and young stars like five-star freshman TyTy Washington. 

Kyra Elzy’s women’s team begins its new season at No. 13. The Cats had a strong regular season in 2020-21 before a second round upset in the NCAA Tournament ended any championship hopes.

The Wildcats enter the season with four seniors, spearheaded by preseason SEC Player of the Year Rhyne Howard, who averaged nearly 20 points per game in the 2020-2021 season.

All seven programs boast strong resumes and talented rosters, making fall 2021 one of the most successful periods in recent Kentucky athletic history. 

These victories suggest that the days of strictly basketball superiority in Lexington are gone. Kentucky is no longer a school that revolves around the hardwood; a growing list of accolades signifies a new era in UK Athletics.