29 Apr

Ex-Kentucky coach agrees to five-year deal with salary starting at $7 million

Arkansas has hired Hall of Fame coach John Calipari, who announced Tuesday in a video posted to social media that he was stepping away from Kentucky after 15 seasons with the program. Calipari replaces Eric Musselman, who made a surprising move of his own from the Razorbacks to USC.

Calipari’s contract is for five years and starts at $7 million per season, per Arkansas, and features a maximum of two automatic rollover years for NCAA Tournament appearances that would extend him through 2031. Incentives include a $1 million signing bonus, $500,000 retention bonuses annually, and additional bonuses for making the NCAA Tournament and advancing through each round.

“As I visited with Coach Calipari during this process, he acknowledged the tremendous opportunity we have at the University of Arkansas to attract and retain top players and compete for championships,” Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “He understands the deep passion of the Razorback Nation and has experienced the tremendous home court advantage of Bud Walton Arena. I have no doubt that under Coach Calipari’s leadership and with the collective support of all those who love the Hogs, Razorback Basketball will continue to maintain its national prominence within college basketball.”

Calipari said in a video statement Tuesday that he felt it was time to “completely” detach from the Wildcats program for another opportunity — presumably, at the time, with the Razorbacks.

“The last few weeks, we have come to realize this program probably needs to hear another voice,” Calipari said. “That the university as a whole has to have another voice giving guidance about this program. The fans need to hear another voice. We think it’s time for us to step away and step away completely from the program. There have been opportunities presented to us and we are discussing them as a family.”

Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart also released a statement on social media, just minutes after Calipari posted his video to social media,

“We’re appreciative of John Calipari leading our program for the last 15 years, adding to the legacy of championship success at Kentucky,” Barnhart’s statement read. “We’re grateful to John for his many contributions to the University, and our state, both on and off the court. We are working diligently to hire a proven, highly dedicated coach who embraces the importance of this program to our fans and the state of Kentucky.”

A message to #BBN: pic.twitter.com/TG344ipTfZ

— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) April 9, 2024
Calipari spent the past 15 seasons as the leader of the Wildcats program. If he accepts Arkansas’ reported offer, he would remain in the SEC to succeed Eric Musselman, who took the vacant job at USC earlier this month.

The 65-year-old Calipari took the job at Kentucky in 2009 after spending nine seasons at Memphis. Calipari previously had stops as an assistant coach at Kansas (1982-85) and Pittsburgh (1985-88) and was the head coach at UMass from 1988-96. Calipari dipped his toes into the NBA world, coaching the New Jersey Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets) from 1996-99 and spending one season as an assistant for the Philadelphia 76ers during the 1999-2000 season.

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