Arkansas appoints John Calipari as the Razorbacks’ coach, just one day after resigning from Kentucky

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John Calipari

Arkansas announced on Wednesday that they’ve hired John Calipari as their men’s basketball coach, just a day after he resigned from coaching at Kentucky, where he won the NCAA championship in 2012.

The 65-year-old Calipari has agreed to a five-year contract with a base salary of $7 million per year until April 2029. The contract also allows for two additional years based on NCAA Tournament appearances, extending it potentially until 2031.

As part of the deal, Calipari will receive a $1 million signing bonus and yearly retention bonuses of $500,000. There are also one-time bonuses for achieving milestones like making the NCAA Tournament, reaching various rounds, and winning a national championship.

Previously, Kentucky was paying Calipari $8.5 million annually. Calipari is one of the most successful active coaches in college basketball, with a record of 855-263 across his coaching career at Massachusetts, Memphis, and Kentucky.

He’s led his teams to six Final Fours and three national championship games and has received numerous accolades, including the AP Coach of the Year award in 2015.


Arkansas’s vice chancellor and athletics director, Hunter Yurachek, praised Calipari’s reputation as an exceptional recruiter and his success in the Southeastern Conference as key reasons for his hiring.

“In our discussions, Coach Calipari recognized the great potential we have here at the University of Arkansas to bring in top players and compete for championships,” said Yurachek in a statement. A press conference introducing Calipari is set for Wednesday evening in Fayetteville.

Calipari takes over from Eric Musselman, who left for Southern California. He inherits a team that had a 16-17 record last season after making three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including reaching the Sweet 16 last year and the Elite Eight in 2021 and 2022.

Arkansas, like Kentucky, has a storied history. The Razorbacks have reached the Final Four six times, won the national championship in 1994, and finished as runners-up in 1995.

Calipari announced his departure from Kentucky on Tuesday, stating in a video that the program “needs a new voice.”

He left Kentucky after compiling a 410-123 record over 15 years, including a 23-10 record last season. However, the recent seasons haven’t met Kentucky’s high standards, with disappointing NCAA Tournament performances including first-round losses to No. 14 seed Oakland last month and No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s two years ago, despite being a top-three seed both times.


The recent NCAA loss led to immediate calls for Calipari’s dismissal, but athletic director Mitch Barnhart later confirmed that Calipari would return for the next season. Terminating Calipari’s contract, which he signed in 2019 for ten years, would have required a buyout of over $33 million.

Kentucky’s financial concerns have been resolved with Calipari’s announcement, while Arkansas’ significant decision immediately positions the Razorbacks as strong SEC contenders, considering the coach’s successful history.

During Calipari’s tenure, Kentucky secured six conference tournament championships and six regular-season titles, but hasn’t claimed a tournament title since 2017.

In a video statement, Calipari expressed, “It was my dream job. Anybody in our profession looks at the University of Kentucky in basketball and says, ‘That is the bluest of blue.’

The last few weeks, we’ve come to realize that this program probably needs to hear another voice, that the university as a whole has to have another voice giving guidance about this program that they hear, and the fans need to hear.”


By Ritik

Ritik Katiyar is pursuing a post-graduate degree in Pharmaceutics. Currently, he lives in Srinagar, Uttarakhand, India. You can find him writing about all sorts of listicle topics. A pharmaceutical postgrad by day, and a content writer by night. You can write to him at [email protected]

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