Tuesday, April 2, 2019


Matt Tait: With Coach Cal in for life at Kentucky, will Kansas, others follow suit?

Kansas head coach Bill Self watches over practice on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Teams practiced and gave interviews to media members before Thursday's opening round games.

Kansas head coach Bill Self watches over practice on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Teams practiced and gave interviews to media members before Thursday's opening round games.


So John Calipari is now at Kentucky for life and the whole thing got me wondering if this kind of contract extension is going to become more popular in the coming years.

On the surface, keeping one of the game’s best coaches and recruiters at a place like Kentucky for a long, long time seems like a good move and a no-brainer.

But was in necessary?

And if your answer to that question is yes then does that mean places like Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State and Villanova are next?

They may be. But they don’t have to be.

First of all, lifetime contracts like the one Calipari recently signed amount to little more than a public love letter that reads, “We love our coach and you can’t have him.”

Yeah, there’s an agreement between Cal and UK for the current head Wildcat to either coach the program or serve as its ambassador for the rest of his life. But as we all know by now nearly all coaching contracts are full of out clauses — in both directions — and few, if any, can ever be considered iron clad.

The whole idea of a lifetime contract is not exactly new. Down the road at Kansas State, Bill Snyder basically operated with a lifetime contract for the better part of the last decade — Snyder’s contract just kept rolling over year after year so he always had five years remaining — and you all saw how difficult that breakup was toward the end of last season.

It’s hard to say it would have been easier for K-State to move on from Snyder if the program had just let his contract expire because, generally speaking, coaches in good standing who recruit for a living operate with at least three or four years on their existing contracts so as not to hurt their efforts on the recruiting trail.

But it sure looked like it would’ve been easier for the Wildcats if there were a more natural breaking point for the end of the Snyder era.

KU basketball coach Bill Self, whose current contract pays him roughly $5 million annually through the 2021-22 season, — for those who don’t like math, that contract expires after three more seasons — has talked recently about wanting to coach at Kansas for a long time still.

And that declaration represents a change of heart from his previous stance from two years ago, when he told’s Myron Medcalf that he didn’t see himself coaching past age 60.

I asked Self recently to expand on the idea of extending his coaching life and why this season, of all seasons, helped him he realize that he wanted to be in it for the long haul, and it turns out his answer had a lot to do with the Jayhawks’ 26-10 mark during the most recent season.

“I just want to make sure we’re back to where we belong, at the top of the basketball world,” the 56-year-old Self told the Journal-World. “That doesn’t guarantee winning, but it sure guarantees you being in the game. This is the first year in 12 years or whatever that we haven’t been in the game to go to the Final Four or win a national championship.

“This year, we just didn’t put ourselves in position to be in the game and when I say the game, I’m talking about with a serious chance to cut down nets. (Missing out on that) hasn’t happened very often here, and I’m motivated to make sure that we’re back to where we should be, with that opportunity or possibility every March.”

With Self desiring to stay at KU for several more years — he said there’s nothing to the recent Chicago Bulls rumors that now have surfaced a couple of different places and emphasized that KU is the only job he’s interested in — and his contract down to its final three, might now be a good time for Self to follow Calipari’s lead and request similar treatment by Kansas?

Or, better yet, at least in Self’s eyes, might now be the right time for KU to approach Self about the idea the way Kentucky approached Calipari?

Who knows what will happen? But no matter when or why Self says goodbye to Kansas, the athletic director in charge at that time sure will not be facing the most enviable task when he has to go replace him. For that reason, a lifetime contract today with the most successful coach in program history makes perfect sense.

But for the longterm health of the program or Self’s own flexibility, it might not be the best idea.

Still, coaches often are as competitive with their contracts as they are on the sideline, so it’ll be interesting to see if Calipari’s move triggers a similar response at any of those schools mentioned above or for any other highly respected and adored coaches throughout college athletics.


Jeremy LeMaster 1 year, 11 months ago

Hasn't coach K had a lifetime contract since just after his third national title - 2000/2001-ish?

Bryce Landon 1 year, 11 months ago

It sure seems that way. But when he retires, the college basketball world will rejoice!

Tony Bandle 1 year, 11 months ago

Coach K's Hall of Fame Credentials:

1] Greatest cheater never to have been caught.

2] Masterful intimidation of refs both in warm up and game time.

3] Best hair dye job among Division One coaches.

4] Sleeps with a Bobby Knight Blankie.

5] Mr. Teflon with untraceable tie ins to bribes, payoffs and illegal gifts.

6] Co Captain with Tom Izzo on the All Ugly Coaches Team. The rest of the team is Jerry Tarkanian, Dick Vitale and Frank Martin.

Armen Kurdian 1 year, 11 months ago

I'll never understand why I didn't once ever hear someone say that Frank Martin should be renamed "Frankenstein." It seemed too easy. Guess I have to live with disappointment.

Eliott Reeder 1 year, 11 months ago

I called him Frank Martinstein the entire time he was at KSU!!!

David Gordon 1 year, 10 months ago

C.mon, Tony! That's not fair to Dickie V. He hasn't been a college coach in over 40 years.

Matt Tait 1 year, 11 months ago

The latest I read said Coach K has a contract that "expires" in 2021. Obviously Duke officials have basically told him he'll be the Blue Devils' coach as long as he wants to, but there is a contract that will need to be extended if he is to coach at Duke beyond 2020-21.

Tony Bandle 1 year, 11 months ago

Random Thoughts:

1] Of the top 50 Winningest Programs of all time [Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, etc., etc.,only one team [Michigan State] at #28] made it to the Final Four.

2] And, not one but two teams, are there for the first time! So much for no Cinderellas.

3] Greatest gap in performance by a #1 Seed Final Four Team??? Virginia going from the first #1 seed to lose to a #16 seed in 2018 to the only #1 seed to make it to the Final Four in 2019 with an absolute serious chance to win it all!

4] It will be interesting to see how Calipari does when the rules change in a couple of years and high schoolers can go directly to "The Show"....he might actually have to coach a little!

5] If Coach Bill signs a lifetime contract, there are a couple of posters on this site who'se heads will explode!!!!!!!

6] What do all four finalists have in common???.......TOUGH, TOUGH DEFENSE!!

Suzi Marshall 1 year, 11 months ago

Yes, Absolutely, Kansas needs to extend Self's contract...lifetime deal would be great.

Larry Knzas 1 year, 11 months ago

Careful there Suzi, Brett M. is going to tag onto your post and tell you that you are supporting a program led by Lucifer.

Jay Scott 1 year, 11 months ago

What Kansas needs to do is have a rotating coaching staff made up of the geniuses who post here with strategies that greatly exceed what HOF Coach Self can come up with......

This massive pool of untapped wisdom would most assuredly mean that Kansas could get every McDonald's All American every year, keep all of them for four full years and win every National Championship with an undefeated record. All this with 4.0 GPAs, endless charity work and total celibacy and sobriety...

Who's not in favor of this?

Dennis Strick 1 year, 11 months ago

If only Albert Einstein had your insight and wit. Imagine how far ahead the world would be now.

Jay Scott 1 year, 11 months ago

.....the comparison to Einstein is something I've become accustomed to.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 11 months ago

It was a few years ago that KU was coming off a significant achievement and OSU was looking for a new coach with Slim Pickens or whatever his name is bank rolling the effort. Many on here were certain of our demise and said we needed to offer the world to keep Coach. Instead, he took much less money but stipulated that work needed to begin immediately on renovating Jayhawk Towers/player housing.

Coach already has close to a blank check for as long as he wants. Part of that mutual knowledge is that he has a history of choosing what is good for the program and not self gratification. I don't know that the same can be said for Cal. Izzo, Williams, K seem to be the face of their program so not seeing them leaving as being much of a threat, and the ability to ask for whatever they want. Are there really many others that fall into the category of being irreplaceable and in a position to make lifetime demands?

Craig Alexander 1 year, 11 months ago

Has anyone been seeing what Coach K has been saying about college athletics? Seems like he is trying to work an angle to get a new agreement for NCAA athletes prior to a full blown Nike investigation will occur. It is possible we get hit with penalties, NCAA makes changes which make our infractions no big deal, and then Duke/Kentucky/ UNC all have nothing to worry about since they didn't get hit first.

Dane Pratt 1 year, 11 months ago

Either he goes to the NBA or retires. He's not going to another college so he is basically at KU for life already.

Barry Weiss 1 year, 11 months ago

I don't see any need for lifetime contracts. Coach loves KU, we love him. Next.

Mike Riches 1 year, 11 months ago

If HCBS ever does go somewhere, whether that's the NBA, retirement or whatever, I think Chris Beard deserves to be seriously considered for the job. Not that anyone would want to leave the utopia of Lubbock, TX...

Tony Bandle 1 year, 11 months ago

Waco used to be the "Arm Pit" of Texas but, thanks to Chip and Jo Jo, that honor has been transferred to Lubbock!!

Dane Pratt 1 year, 11 months ago

I'm kind of guessing he's going to end up at UT in another year after they fire Smart. Lots of talent in Texas. He could turn the Longhorns into a powerhouse.

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 11 months ago

I put him in my top four replacements for Bill Self back on December 3, though I don't really like the look of us poaching a coach from within our own conference, I think that he definitely deserves a look. He's relatively young and been very successful in a position that his historically been difficult to win. His teams seem to play the game the right way. Texas Tech has a gem of a coach, but can they keep him when the elite programs start calling?

Robert Brock 1 year, 11 months ago

Leave it to Kentucky to pull another stupid stunt.

Chad Smith 1 year, 11 months ago

To me, this contract is just for glitter and to appease the Kentucky fanbase. If Kansas wants Bill Self to keep coaching, they will make sure it happens. Self probably already realizes it's a top 5 College Coaching Job and unless he wants to go to the NBA or retire, Do people really think after coaching in the BIg 12 for so long he's going to leave KU and go coach Oklahoma State? Like there is no better college job for him than what he already has. UCLA is not a better coaching job than KU. The only other schools that would be already have lifelong coaches as well. (duke, Kentucky, UNC, Villanova) Self will either retire in a couple years or coach for 10-15 more at KU. He gets paid great and has a legacy that will never be repeated. I don't see him leaving unless he goes to the NBA or retires.

Phil Leister 1 year, 11 months ago

Bill is never going to coach at another college. Sure he could leave for the NBA, but look at Fred Hoiberg. There is ZERO JOB SECURITY in the NBA. Who knows, maybe will would take a stab at it as his coaching career winds down and if he fails, then he could ride off into the sunset with millions. But I'm not sure why anyone would want to leave a top 5 coaching job in all of basketball. Not just college basketball.

Freddie Garza 1 year, 10 months ago

FWIW, FC Barcelona gave Andres Iniesta (a legendary player in Spain, and one of Barcelona's all time greats) a lifetime contract a couple of years ago. The following year after they gave him this contract, he signed with a Chinese soccer team.

Just saying.

Brad Watson 1 year, 10 months ago

Bill Self is the best basketball coach in America...his record speaks for itself...It is better than Coach stands YES.... a Lifetime contract should be obvious....14 Conference championships in succession....HELLO?......who else can say that....the most realistic goals are conference championships and conference tournaments....he stands alone...its nice to say you won a National Championship......but those are rare........too many variables.......especially since the expansion to 64....The Ucla teams only had to win 4 you have to win 6.....when you are 50 and look back at your career...conference championships and tournament championships leave the great memories and the satisfying thoughts of accomplishment.......all of Selfs' teams have enjoyed that......thanks to his brilliant YES!!!!!!...extend Coach for life and hopefully he will be here for another 20 years!

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