With the Kentucky Wildcats eliminated from the 2019 NCAA Tournament in a tough loss to the Auburn Tigers, attention has shifted to John Calipari. The longtime Kentucky coach has been linked to the UCLA Bruins job for some time now, but it seems as though his heart remains with the Wildcats.
As The Athletic’s Seth Davis reported, Calipari was offered a six-year, $48 million deal by UCLA, but informed them last week that he will remain in Lexington.
UCLA offered Calipari a contract worth approximately $48 million over six years, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation. The contacts between Calipari and UCLA have been more extensive than previously reported, but Calipari told UCLA last week he is not interested in leaving Kentucky.
Davis also details that Calipari’s current school allowed the Bruins to speak with the head coach. They reportedly didn’t believe Calipari would take the offer from UCLA, partially due to the fact that the school has not committed the same “financial resources that Kentucky has” in the past for basketball.
Kentucky Offers John Calipari Lifetime Contract
In one of the most head-turning twists to the UCLA story, it seems Kentucky has responded to the offer from the Bruins. They’ve done so by putting forth what Davis and The Athletic describe as “essentially a lifetime contract extension.”
Once Kentucky learned how serious UCLA’s offer was, it offered Calipari, who turned 60 in February, the extension. The school is not looking to substantially enhance Calipari’s annual compensation, but the new contract would include a 10-year term as coach plus a promise to serve as a paid ambassador for the school after his retirement. Calipari’s current contract runs through 2024, after an extension in 2017.
The Bruins have shifted their attention from Calipari at this point it seems and will be on to other prospects as their next head coach after firing Steve Alford during the 2018-19 season.
John Calipari’s Career With Kentucky
For what it’s worth, Calipari is already the highest-paid coach in college basketball. As USA Today detailed, his total salary of $9,276,643 comes in north of $2 million more than Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s $7,048,206. Beyond that, there is no coach within $5 million of Calipari.
Having wrapped up season No. 10 with Kentucky, Calipari has posted a 305-71 record while achieving the No. 1 ranking in the country during six of the 10 years. He’s also led the Wildcats to either a regular season SEC title or conference championship on seven different occasions.
Calipari’s tenure with the Wildcats has resulted in four appearances in the Final Four, along with a 2011-12 national championship victory. Although Kentucky fell short of another Final Four appearance this year, there’s little doubt they’ll add even more talent ahead of the 2019-20 season and return to the mix.
Follow all of Heavy’s Kentucky basketball coverage here