John Calipari signs 10-year, $86 million deal to keep him at Kentucky for life, even if it's not as a coach
Calipari's new contract would allow him to become a UK administrator when he decides to step down
Kentucky has all but guaranteed that John Calipari will hereby be synonymous with Big Blue -- and Big Blue alone.
UK announced Thursday it signed Calipari to a lucrative 10-year, $86 million deal that will essentially keep him with the Wildcats until he retires. The contract expires after the 2028-2029 season.
In the deal includes some unusual, unique clauses. First among them: Calipari has an option written him that would allow him to step down from his role as UK's coach after the sixth year to become "special assistant to the athletic director," according to the school. Essentially, he'd be a brand ambassador tasked with promotional and fundraising responsibilities -- and he'd get paid $950,000 annually to do so.
The second clause -- particularly relevant given reports earlier this spring that UCLA and Calipari discussed the Bruins coaching vacancy -- requires Calipari to notify the athletic director of any employment offers outside of the University of Kentucky in addition to requests for meetings related to potential employment opportunities. In other words: Kentucky doesn't want Calipari using other programs for leverage without getting permission to do so henceforth.
Calipari's $86 million is guaranteed and only includes one financial incentive related to performance, and that is academically. If Kentucky's APR (Academic Progress Rate) is 975 or higher, he gets a $50,000 kicker; last year UK's score of 1,000 marked the fourth consecutive season it exceeded the contract's benchmark.
"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 in a statement. "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."
Since taking the Kentucky job in 2009 Calipari has amassed a 305-71 overall record that includes four Final Fours, seven Elite Eight appearances and eight Sweet 16 appearances -- more than any other coach in that span.
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