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John Calipari in Final Talks With Arkansas to Coach for Next 5 Years

John Calipari (Via NBA/Twitter)

Sources informed on Sunday night that John Calipari is finalizing a five-year agreement to assume the role of the next men’s basketball coach at Arkansas, a move expected to significantly impact the SEC and college basketball space.

According to sources, Calipari’s contract is anticipated to feature a base salary slightly below his current $8.5 million at Kentucky. However, it is projected to include performance-based incentives that could surpass that figure.

The formalization of the contract is expected within the next 24 hours.

A crucial factor facilitating the agreement was Calipari’s enduring relationship with John H. Tyson, a billionaire and longstanding benefactor of Arkansas.

Calipari is poised to succeed Eric Musselman, who departed for USC the previous week.

John Calipari (Via NBA/Twitter)

Following Musselman’s exit, Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek pursued Chris Beard of Ole Miss and Jerome Tang of Kansas State, although both coaches ultimately opted to remain at their respective institutions. Sources indicated that Arkansas offered Beard a contract in the vicinity of $5 million annually.

Kentucky’s basketball program has faced mounting pressure during Calipari’s 15-season tenure, notably due to their absence from the NCAA tournament’s later stages since 2019 and unexpected losses to lower-seeded teams like Saint Peter’s and Oakland in recent years.

Speculation surrounding Calipari’s future intensified after Kentucky’s upset defeat to Oakland, prompting athletic director Mitch Barnhart to release a statement confirming Calipari’s continuation as head coach for the forthcoming season.

Should Kentucky have terminated Calipari’s contract, they would have owed him over $33 million, though no compensation is owed to the university if he joins another program.

Arkansas Razorbacks Team (Via NBA/Twitter)

A prominent figure in college sports, Calipari has been at Kentucky since 2009, leading the Wildcats to the national championship in 2012 and four Final Four appearances within his first six seasons.

Subsequently, the team reached the Elite Eight in 2017 and 2019 but has only secured one NCAA tournament victory since the latter campaign.

Off the court, Calipari solidified Kentucky’s reputation as a recruiting powerhouse, consistently securing top-ranked recruiting classes. Calipari’s tenure with the Wildcats boasts a record of 410-123.

Prior to his stint at Kentucky, Calipari coached Memphis for nine seasons, guiding the Tigers to two Elite Eights and a national championship game appearance in 2008, where they fell to Kansas in overtime.

Calipari’s coaching career began at UMass, where he led the team to the Final Four in 1996 before transitioning to the NBA to coach the New Jersey Nets for three seasons.

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