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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Calipari headed to Kentucky

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— John Calipari agreed Tuesday to leave Memphis and the dominant program he built and take on the challenge — and riches — of returning Kentucky to college basketball glory.

Calipari will receive an eight-year, $31.65 million deal plus incentives, according to the university, making him the highest-paid coach in college basketball. The school also will pay Memphis a $200,000 buyout.

The 50-year-old Calipari has a career record of 445-140 in 17 seasons. He chose to leave Memphis after nine seasons of success, including a record of 137-14 over the past four years.

He spent the day considering the Wildcats’ lucrative offer and calling former Kentucky coaches, including Joe B. Hall.

Hall said the informal chat centered on what it takes to survive one of college basketball’s most prestigious and most scrutinized jobs. Kentucky fired Billy Gillispie last Friday after two disappointing seasons.

Tigers walk-on Preston Laird said Calipari met with the team Tuesday afternoon, first as a group and then with individual players. The freshman guard described the meeting as very quiet, “Nobody really said anything.”

Memphis has scheduled a news conference for today to discuss the future of its basketball program.

The news of Calipari’s hire spread quickly across Lexington. More than 100 fans stood out in the rain at Blue Grass Airport hoping to catch a glimpse of Calipari’s arrival on a plane from Memphis.

Calipari’s deal would eclipse the $3.5 million average salary of Florida’s Billy Donovan and dwarf those of Calipari’s predecessors Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith and Gillispie.

Pitino, now the coach at rival Louisville, never made more than $2 million a season during his remarkably successful eight-year run at Kentucky.

Comments

KEITHMILES05 5 years, 8 months ago

Anderson is absolutely NUTS to not go somewhere to better his financial situation. Many Missery fans/money people don't like him and he knows it. Why in heavens name would he stay? Absolutely stunning.

wxhawk 5 years, 8 months ago

Give Anderson his due. He's a good ball coach who preaches hustle over everything else. MU made a good move to re-sign him. The competition will only serve to make KU better.

Seth Peattie 5 years, 8 months ago

Agree with KM05. What an idiot. Obviously a great business man.

Either way, MU can still SUCK IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

billhawk 5 years, 8 months ago

I feel really bad for Memphis all of the sudden. Think about this, a couple days ago you have a great coach, they are in the Sweet 16, and had by far and away the best recruiting class in the nation wrapped up, and could still possibly sign the #1 rated player in the nation, making their recruiting class possibly the best in many, many years in all of college basketball.

Now, a week later, they are out of the tournament, they lost their coach to a rival state and their entire recruiting class is gone. But hey, they were smart enough to make Kentucky pay them a whopping $200,000 for it!

newyorkjayhawk 5 years, 8 months ago

billhawk -

i certainly share your sentiments in that Memphis has been through a whirlwind the past few weeks. But i do put some blame on their institution. had they wanted to, they probably could have joined another conference, be it the Big East, SEC, or ACC. that would have possibly put Callipari into the limelight he wanted to be in, without having to move to a new school. When the Big East and ACC fall out was over and done with, Memphis decided to stay in Conference USA for some unknown reason and i truly believe they will and have suffered because of that. if you refuse to join the major conferences, you'll always be known as "renting" the future Hall of Fame coaches before they get their big break. I honestly don't like the guy, but you have to hand it to Callipari, he apparently doesn't just care about racking up the W's. The flip side to that is that UK is the only basketball-heavy school in an otherwise football heavy conference... still, it's a big 6 conference with the likes of a few big time programs that will keep him honest.

rawkhawk 5 years, 8 months ago

As far as MU, too bad they still have nice-guy Anderson at the helm...I miss Quin. On the other hand, I agree with the comment that this strengthens the Big 12...

As far as Calipari... On the positive, I don't really hate Memphis as I did a week ago. With Gillispie gone (with UK under him I found myself rooting for the Wildcats), I can now go back to being anti-Kentucky. I love thinking of the time that KU beat UK 150-95.

This drama also makes me appreciate how KU pulled off the title game against Calipari last year.

I hope this means that KU gets a good recruit next year...I reckon we'll have to wait and see. In the meantime boo Kentucky and Calipari...

RockiesJayhawk 5 years, 8 months ago

Let the domino effect begin! Will be very interesting to see the aftershocks in the coaching ranks and, even more so, in the recruiting ranks that this big change will lead to! Great hire for Kentucky, though, and don't count Memphis out just yet...they've got a pretty fanatical, well-heeled fan base of their own so I expect them to make some noise with their next hire as well. Haven't heard what's happening at 'Zona....any updates on their coaching slot?

Seth Peattie 5 years, 8 months ago

Kentucky can suck it. Tired program with nothing to offer modern college athletics.

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