Bourbon bottles fund tutors



Sarah Jayne Johnson

UK’s Center for Academic and Tutorial Services (CATS) was successfully expanded to the south side of campus last fall to accommodate the 22 varsity athletic teams. 

With a growing number of student-athletes spending a majority of their time on south campus, a closer expansion was created in the Joe Craft Football Training Facility. Prior to the expansion, the main athlete’s tutoring facility was located in Memorial Coliseum.

According to a press release, the first-of-its-kind support program in the nation provides primary academic support for more than 500 student-athletes. The press release also states that UK athletes have a cumulative grade point average of better than 3.0 in nine consecutive semesters.

“It features academic support space for use by student-athletes on the south side of campus,” UK Athletics Director of Strategic Communications Guy Ramsey said. 

UK athletics, Maker’s Mark and Keeneland partnered together to help benefit the CATS program by fundraising through the sales of commemorative Maker’s Mark bourbon bottles. The partners plan to raise $2 million over a five-year period from the sales of the specialty bourbon bottles.

There will be a series of five bottles total in order to benefit the CATS program. The first bottle of the series pictured legendary coach Adolph Rupp. The second bottle from Maker’s Mark featured Joe B. Hall cutting the net for UK’s fifth national championship win in 1978. The third bottle will feature the 1995-96 men’s basketball national championship team, “The Untouchables,” which went on sale April 7.

Maker’s Mark and Keeneland worked with the UK athletics department to challenge companies to raise a matching $2 million. Keeneland was the first to agree in 2015 to the cause and pledged $100,000.

“The entirety of the CATS expansion was funded up front, so the money raised by bottles in 2018 and 2019 will serve to replenish the funds spent at the beginning of the project,” Ramsey said.

Friday morning, April 14, Keeneland will be hosting four members from the 1996 UK championship team, Cameron Mills, Derek Anderson, Jeff Sheppard and Jared Prickett, to sign the commemorative bourbon bottle. 

The last two bottles of the series will be released in 2018 and 2019.