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Calipari Signs New Long-Term Pact with UK

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky men’s basketball head coach John Calipari, who owns more wins, more NCAA Tournament wins, more Final Four appearances, more Elite Eight berths and more Sweet 16 showings than any other coach since his arrival at UK, has signed a new long-term contract with the school that will offer him the opportunity to end his career in Lexington. Calipari signed the new contract Thursday.

John Calipari in 2009 (Photo by Jamie H. Vaught)

“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,” Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “He has added a special chapter to the greatest tradition in college basketball and it’s a chapter we want him to continue writing until the end of his coaching career. We are pleased to announce a new contract that will enable him to do exactly that.”


The new deal, with total guaranteed compensation – which includes base salary and media/endorsement payments – is valued at $86 million over the lifetime of the contract. With a base salary of $400,000 per season from the university, Calipari will make $8 million in total compensation over the next two seasons with increases starting in 2021-22 ($8.5 million per year for four seasons) and 2025-26 ($9 million per year for four seasons).


“I want to thank the university, Dr. Eli Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart and DeWayne Peevy for approaching me with the opportunity to finish my career at Kentucky,” Calipari said. “I’ve said from day one that this would be the gold standard and it has been for student-athletes and coaches. As I enter my 11th year, I’m reminded it took me 20 years to get an opportunity to like this. There is no other place I want to be. As I look forward, my mindset is what’s next and how can we be first at it for the young people that we coach.”


The only incentive included in Calipari’s new contract remains the performance of the men’s basketball team in the Academic Progress Rate, a metric created by the NCAA to measure academic eligibility, retention and graduation. The bonus will remain unchanged at $50,000 from the previous contract for meeting the threshold of 975. The men’s basketball team has earned an NCAA award in five straight seasons for finishing among the top 10% of Division I men’s basketball schools.


Calipari’s new contract will no longer include a retention bonus. Beginning with the sixth contract year of the agreed upon terms, Calipari has the option to step down as the head coach and become special assistant to the athletics director/university representative. He would receive $950,000 in annual compensation for the position.


Compensation for all head coaches is funded self-sufficiently and entirely by UK Athletics, with no additional funds coming from the university or any foundation.


Calipari is entering his 11th season at Kentucky. With a 305-71 record at UK, he trails only the Baron of the Bluegrass, Adolph Rupp, in total wins as the head coach of the Wildcats. His winning percentage of .811 at Kentucky is only fractions behind Rupp’s pace through his first 376 games at UK, and he surpassed Rupp during the Wildcats’ 2019 Elite Eight run for most NCAA Tournament victories (31) as Kentucky’s head coach. When he reached the 300-win mark at UK this past season, he became the fourth-fastest coach to 300 wins at one program in NCAA history.


The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer (first ballot) had led Kentucky to a national championship and four Final Fours (2011, ‘12, ‘14 and ‘15) in a five-season span, just the third coach (John Wooden and Mike Krzyzewski) in the history of college basketball to accomplish such a feat.


UK has won more games than any other team in college basketball in the last 10 seasons under Calipari and has advanced to the Elite Eight seven times and the Sweet 16 eight times. Calipari’s Kentucky teams have captured five regular-season Southeastern Conference championships and six SEC Tournament titles. They’ve won 30 games in five of the 10 seasons.

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