LEXINGTON – While coach John Calipari isn’t ruling out ever talking to other schools about making a career move, the University of Kentucky made clear that it wants him to stick around — perhaps for the next decade.
The school on Thursday announced the terms of its new contract — 10 years, $86 million — with Calipari, who has led the school to one NCAA championship amid four Final Four appearances in his 10 seasons on the job.
The contract was hammered out earlier this year amid talk that UCLA was wooing Calipari. The Athletic reported that the extent of UCLA’s offer spurred Kentucky to offer a long-term, if not a lifetime, contract.
According to the Louisville Courier Journal, Calipari will make $8 million each of the next two seasons, $8.5 million annually from July 2021 to June 2025, then $9 million annually from July 2025 to June 2029.
Calipari, who has a 708-209 record in 27 seasons, including eight years at Massachusetts and nine at Memphis before leaving for Kentucky, said his current employer made it quite clear that it wanted to make a commitment.
“The university talked to me, most of the year. ‘We want you to be here the rest of your career. How do we do this? What do we do? Let’s sit down and talk.’ And that was ongoing,” Calipari told reporters at a news conference on Thursday.
When asked about the offer from UCLA, Calipari said he gets “calls every year from different people, and you know why I’ll talk? At the end of the day, I may be able to help somebody else. If I know that I can help somebody else who’s helping assistants, I’ll do that. But I’ll listen to people talk to me. I owe that to the profession, to myself. To say, ‘I’ll never talk to somebody,’ … some of these people that I talk to I’ve been on committees with. I know the guy really well or I know who this person is.”
The new contract does not require Calipari to buy his way out should he decide to leave, but he is required to tell the school about other employment opportunities before he begins talks elsewhere.
Mitch Barnhart, Kentucky’s athletic director, talked about what Calipari means to the school and its basketball program.
“One of the truly unique things about Kentucky men’s basketball is its legacy of head coaches who have made their own lasting mark on this program. John is a perfect illustration of that,” Barnhart said, according to a news release from the school.
Six years into his new contract, Calipari receives an option to shift from coaching duties into an administrative role, referred to as a “special assistant to the athletic director/university representative.”
The Courier Journal describes that role as fundraising and promotions for the athletic department.
–Field Level Media