Academics are serious business for Burton

Did you ever wonder how athletes really feel about their academic work and whether they take it as seriously as coaches and athletics directors want to believe they do?

Did you ever wonder how athletes really feel about their academic work and whether they take it as seriously as coaches and athletics directors want to believe they do?

If Kentucky's Keenan Burton is right, most athletes may really be much more interested in academics than a lot of fans might believe. "You always try to make the best grades possible. I know a lot of people on our team try to make the all-SEC academic team," Burton said.

Wait a minute? Athletes want to made academic all-SEC just like they want to make all-conference teams based purely on athletic accomplishments? "Sure. Players work hard in the classroom. I try to work hard in the classroom. You try to get classes to go with your major so you can graduate. It's very important that you get your degree. Our coaches and athletic director really want us to do well academically," Burton said.

Okay. But there have to be classes where players know they can coast. "You never go into a class knowing exactly what to expect. You might of had a teammate make an A and you think it might be an easy A for you, too. But you never know," Burton said. "People learn differently. People have different ways of doing their work and study.

"If you have a class like Sports and Society and you know you will enjoy it more, you might say that's an easier class because you will be more interested. It helps if you are interested in the class. But I know a lot of athletes that are not interested in history and we still have to take the classes. You just do the best you can and usually appreciate what you learn."

Burton says both head coach Rich Brooks and athletics director Mitch Barnhart make it clear that academics are the first priority for players. "Our coaches make it clear that it is important to get our degrees. They tell us what we have to do. If you don't do that, then you can't play. That's extra motivation, but coach Brooks and Mr. Barnhart won't accept anything less."


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