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. See attachment for details of the full contract.
“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.
Full terms of the contract are attached. 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.
Keeping his promise from his introductory press conference to recruit the best of the best, all 11 of Calipari’s recruiting classes at Kentucky have ranked in the top three of the Recruiting Services Consensus Index, which tallies major recruiting rankings and plugs them into a formula to calculate a consensus ranking. This year’s class is ranked No. 2.
For his career, Calipari owns a 750-211 on-court record with six on-court Final Four appearances. When he reached career win No. 300, he became the fourth-fastest coach to get there, behind only Rupp, Jerry Tarkanian and Roy Williams. He’s one of only two coaches (Rick Pitino) to lead three different schools to a Final Four and he’s the only coach in NCAA Division I history with at least 189 victories at three different schools.
The three-time Naismith National Coach of the Year has led his teams at UK, Memphis and UMass to a combined 30 combined regular-season and tournament championships, which trails only Rupp (41) and Gonzaga’s Mark Few (33). Calipari’s 25 straight seasons with 20 or more on-court wins is the longest active streak in the nation. Only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (15) and Roy Williams (12) – with longer careers – have more 30-win seasons than Calipari (11), and he was the first coach in NCAA Division I history to record five straight on-court 30-win seasons when he did so in consecutive seasons from 2005-06 to 2009-10.
As someone who prides himself on helping young men reach their dreams, Calipari has helped 46 players earn selection in the NBA Draft during his college coaching career, including 35 over his first nine drafts at Kentucky. The 35 picks over that nine-season span is 14 more than the next closest school (Duke).
Overall, he’s churned out 35 NBA draft picks, 26 first-rounders, three No. 1 overall selections, 13 top-10 picks and 19 lottery selections at Kentucky with more expected to go to the NBA ranks at next week’s NBA Draft. Since the 2008 draft, 40 of Coach Cal’s players have been taken in the NBA Draft, including 28 first-rounders. Calipari has produced a top-10 pick in 11 straight drafts. No other school has had a first-rounder in each of the last 11 drafts. Included in Calipari’s NBA success are four No. 1 overall picks (Derrick Rose, Karl-Anthony Towns, John Wall and Anthony Davis). No other coach has had more than two No. 1 picks.
Calipari’s teams routinely post solid marks in the classroom. In 2019, Kentucky earned a perfect four-year composite APR score of 1,000 for the fourth consecutive season. It was also the sixth consecutive year in which UK earned a perfect one-year score of 1,000. Going back to 2007-08, the first year of the APR, all of Calipari’s teams have far surpassed the Division I average APR score.
All 20 players at UK who have been eligible to graduate by the end of their senior years have graduated, including four players (Patrick Patterson, Jarrod Polson, Alex Poythress and Brad Calipari) who earned their degree in just three years.
His foundation, The Calipari Foundation, has raised millions of dollars to help the lives of those in need in the Commonwealth and across the country. In 2010, he used a telethon to raise more than $1 million for victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. He organized another one in 2012 for victims of Superstorm Sandy and another one in 2017 for victims of Hurricane Harvey.
In 2013, Calipari developed with the idea of hosting an annual alumni weekend around his basketball fantasy experience with the intent to raise money for charity. After generating $350,000 for selected organizations and charities during the inaugural game, the weekend has generated more than $1 million for charity every year since.
His foundation has also worked with and donated money to Samaritan’s Feet, the West Liberty Recovery Fund, 4 Paws for Ability, the Starkey Hearing Foundation, the Urban League of Lexington and the V Foundation, among others. Calipari has also headed up the EverFi Financial Literacy Program, which teaches students across Kentucky the importance of money management.
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