John Calipari leaving Kentucky for Arkansas

John Calipari leaving Kentucky for Arkansas

Although nothing was official as of mid-afternoon Monday, all signs indicate that Arkansas is on the verge of hiring John Calipari away from Kentucky.

According to multiple reports, the contract is expected to be completed by tonight or tomorrow morning. Wess Moore of FOX16 in Little Rock and 1037 The Buzz was the first to report the Calipari news Sunday night.

After Eric Musselman left to take the USC job, Arkansas AD Hunter Yurachek pursued Ole Miss head coach Chris Beard and Kansas St. HC Jerome Tang, but both men opted to remain at their current schools.

At that point, it seemed as if former LSU HC and current McNeese St. HC Will Wade was the primary target for the Razorbacks.

I had appeared on Wess’s show on 1037 The Buzz this past Friday to discuss my Final Four picks. I texted Wess early Saturday looking to confirm that Wade was the next target for Arkansas.

He did not think that was the case and, as it turned out, he was 100% correct.

After Kentucky was eliminated from the 2024 NCAA Tournament by 13th-seeded Oakland in the first round, there was speculation galore about the future of Calipari at UK. However, the school simply wasn’t willing to cough up the $33 million buyout.

But if Calipari leaves UK on his own, Arkansas isn’t on the hook for a penny. Multiple reports indicate that Calipari’s new deal with Arkansas will pay him slightly less than the $8.5 million per year he’s been getting paid by the Wildcats, although incentives could push him North of $8.5 million if those conditions are met.

Calipari’s relationship with John H. Tyson, the chairman of Tyson Foods who is a billionaire and longtime Arkansas booster, is believed to be the catalyst behind this seismic deal that’s poised to shake up the college basketball landscape.

The 65-year-old Calipari spent nine seasons at Memphis before leaving for Lexington in 2009. He’s taken UK to 12 NCAA Tournaments in 15 years, including seven Elite Eight appearances and four Final Fours.

The Wildcats won the national title in 2012 and finished as runner-up in 2014, but they haven’t advanced into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament since 2019.

Calipari has compiled a 410-122 (77.1%) overall record at UK, going 198-65 (75.3%) in SEC play. He also took Memphis and UMass to Final Fours and owns an 813-260 (75.8%) overall record.

With Trevon Brazile hiring an agent and entering the NBA Draft earlier today, Arkansas only has one player remaining on its roster.

Calipari has the nation’s #2 recruiting class lined up at UK. That group of six players includes four five-star prospects and two four-star players. Several of those players are likely going to head to Fayetteville, and it won’t take long for Calipari to stock his new roster full of talented players.