John Calipari signed an extension with the Kentucky Wildcats at the end of the 2014 season. Today, a report came out that the university and the national championship-winning coach agreed to another extension, this one for one year at $8 million.
Should he ride out this deal, Calipari’s contract with the Wildcats will expire when he is 63 years old. By that time, he will have spent 13 years at the helm in Lexington.
This is obviously a really smart move by Kentucky. The list of college basketball coaches who have been more successful than Coach Cal over the last six years is really short (if it even exists at all). He has accrued a 190-38 record and has made it to at least the Elite Eight four times. In 2011-12, Calipari led the Wildcats to a national championship, and this past season, he coached one of the greatest regular season teams in college basketball history, as Kentucky won its first 38 games before falling to Wisconsin in the Final Four.
Kentucky probably never had to worry about losing Calipari to another college team, as few schools offer the mix of money, resources and tradition Kentucky has. Plus he’s practically a God in Lexington, so leaving to coach anywhere else in the NCAA would be a huge surprise. More importantly, this extension will help fend off NBA teams looking to bring Calipari on board. Sure, his first stint in the Association was a disaster, but he has reportedly had the itch to get back to the pros. He was notably offered the Cleveland Cavaliers’ head coaching vacancy last year and there are plenty of ex-Wildcats stars in the NBA who would probably love to see their old coach. One such star is without a head coach after today, as Anthony Davis’s New Orleans Pelicans axed Monty Williams.
Will this deal stave off NBA teams who want to bring Calipari back to the pros? There’s no way to find out, but Kentucky’s certainly doing everything it can to keep Cal in Lexington.