Former Wildcat linebacker a finalist for Academic Hall of Fame

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Former University of Kentucky linebacker Dr. Jim Kovach has been named a finalist for the Academic All-America Hall of Fame, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) announced.

Kovach, an Academic All-American in 1978, is among a select group of finalists for the prestigious honor. The Hall of Fame is for former student-athletes who earned Academic All-America distinction while in college and have gone on to extraordinary careers. The Hall of Fame Class of 2009 will be announced in April.

Kovach was the epitome of the term “student-athlete” at UK from 1974-78, earning a biology degree with a 3.50 grade-point average. He was a three-time All-Southeastern Conference honoree at linebacker and helped lead the Wildcats to the ’76 Southeastern Conference championship. He is still UK’s all-time leading tackler with 521 stops and has had his jersey retired by the school.

Kovach enrolled in medical school during his senior season, becoming the first player in modern NCAA history to attend med school while playing football. A fourth-round draft choice by the New Orleans Saints, Kovach had a seven-year career with the Saints (1979-85) and San Francisco 49’ers (1985) and was named to the All-Saints 20th anniversary team for 1967-87.

Kovach continued his medical studies during the National Football League off-seasons and completed his medical degree at UK in 1984. After his playing days, he went to Stanford University and earned a law degree.

The unique combination of medical and law degrees has led Kovach to an interesting career. At various times, he has been:

a corporate attorney, specializing in legal counsel for biotechnology companies, hospitals and medical device manufacturers;
director of technology at a biotechnology company, identifying and assessing patentability and commercial potential of medical technology;
director of technology management at Case Western Reserve University, managing biomedical technology licensing;
vice-president of a bioinformatics company, providing software solutions to the pharmaceutical industry; and
executive vice-president and chief operating officer of a biotechnology company that developed therapeutics to treat obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Since 2005, Dr. Kovach has been president and chief operating officer at the Buck Institute for Age Research, located in Novato, Calif. The Buck Institute specializes in research on aging, with emphasis on delaying the aging process in order to prevent chronic age-associated disease.

TSN Study Indicates UK Effective in Maximizing Talent: A study by Matt Hayes of The Sporting News indicates that Kentucky is one of the nation’s best teams for developing its football recruits.

Hayes did an analysis that compared recruiting rankings with the number of victories produced by the 66 teams in the Bowl Championship Series conferences. Hayes listed the teams 1-66 based on the average recruiting rank from 2004-08. He also listed the teams 1-66 based on the number of victories from 2004-08. Then, he obtained a differential in comparing the average recruiting rank with number of wins.

For example, Kentucky’s average recruiting ranking for 2004-08 was No. 55. The Wildcats produced the 48th-most victories during that span. UK’s differential of +7 was tied for the 18th-best improvement in the country.

Suffering from the effects of a severe NCAA probation, UK started the five-year period slowly, with a 2-9 record in 2004 and a 3-8 mark in 2005. Coach Rich Brooks’ crew rallied nicely over the past three seasons, posting a winning record and bowl victory in 2006, ’07 and ’08.

Wildcats’ Web Site Drew Big Numbers on Signing Day: The Kentucky Athletics Web site,, was one of the nation’s most-watched sites on football signing day, according to CBS College Sports.

CBS College Sports manages the Web sites of 72 of the nation’s 120 schools in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. UK ranked 10th among those 72 FBS schools, drawing 120,821 page impressions on signing day.

In addition to posting recruits’ biographies, video highlights and quotes from Coach Rich Brooks and Recruiting Coordinator Randy Sanders, there was a four-hour, live interactive blog with several assistant coaches that enabled fans to ask questions of the coaches as the official signatures were received by UK.

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