UK coach John Calipari gets 2-year contract extension

Compensation, including bonuses, in excess of $5 million annually

jtipton@herald-leader.comJune 28, 2011 

UK coach John Calipari as Kentucky defeated Alabama 72-58 on Saturday, March 12, 2011, in Atlanta, GA. Photo by Mark Cornelison Staff..

University of Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari has received a two-year contract extension that, including bonuses, calls for compensation in excess of $5 million annually, UK announced Monday. The new deal maxes out at $5.75 million in the final year of 2018-2019.

Calipari, who this past season led the team to its first Final Four since 1998, received a new eight-year contract worth a total of $36.5 million in base salary and compensation from media and endorsement opportunities. He can also earn up to $850,000 annually in incentives for victories and championships in NCAA Tournament and Southeastern Conference play.

Calipari said Monday he was "humbled" by the position and pleased with the contract extension.

"I'm happy about this opportunity," Calipari said. "It took me a long time to get to a place like Kentucky ... to have an opportunity like I have to be connected to a fan base and be part of a situation that is so passionate."

Calipari's contract now mirrors UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart's current contract in terms of longevity. Barnhart noted that during negotiations Calipari demonstrated his desire to stay at Kentucky "for a long time."

"What John Calipari has done on and off the court in the past two years to reunite and rejuvenate this fan base has been magical," Barnhart said in a written release. "He understands the responsibility that goes along with this position and there is no other coach out there that is a better fit for the best basketball program in the country."

Barnhart said the university "evened out" Calipari's annual compensation without adding to the base salary. "We were able to move some longevity bonuses around that were already in the contract, and added some longevity bonuses in the later years of his contract to demonstrate that we want him here for a long time.

"We also agreed to restructure the bonus money in a fair format where success dictates the bonuses," Barnhart said. "If we reach the levels of success for Cal to receive these bonuses, we will certainly generate the revenue necessary to allocate these funds."

The new contract has a reworked buyout provision that would make it more costly for Calipari to leave. The original deal called for Calipari to pay UK $1 million if he left after his third season as coach, $500,000 after the fourth and nothing after the fifth and subsequent seasons. The new deal requires Calipari to pay UK $1 million if he leaves after the fourth or fifth season as coach.

Calipari tweeted his desire to stay at UK: "The people of Kentucky have embraced our family as one of their own and we love being here. And there is no other place we'd rather be."

Calipari had the most lucrative contract in men's basketball before it was extended, according to a Forbes magazine report last year. The next highest-paid coach was Tom Izzo of Michigan State at $3.4 million annually. Rounding out the top five were Billy Donovan of Florida ($3.3 million), Bill Self of Kansas ($3 million) and Thad Matta of Ohio State ($2.5 million).

Others in the top 10 were Louisville's Rick Pitino (sixth, $2.25 million), Duke's Mike Krzyzewski (seventh, $2.2 million) and North Carolina's Roy Williams (ninth, $2 million).

There are other methods of measuring a coach's total compensation. For instance, The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., reported this past weekend that Krzyzewski made almost $5 million in 2009, according to Duke's tax filing.

"Coach Calipari has led a remarkable turnaround of our basketball program, bringing it back to unquestioned national prominence and in a position to compete for championships on a regular basis," retiring UK president Lee Todd said in a news release.

Calipari's original contract was an eight-year deal, guaranteeing $31.65 million and ending in 2017. He was to be paid a total of about $3.7 million in his first year.

The new agreement continues Calipari's base salary of $400,000 per year. His compensation from media duties and endorsements increases from $2,850,000 to $3,400,000 in the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years.

The new deal also adds three retention bonuses of $1 million each. Calipari can receive a $1 million bonus if he remains UK coach through the 2012-13 season, another $1 million if he stays through the 2013-14 season and another $1 million after 2014-15, 2016-17 and 2017-18. The retention bonus increases to $1.1 million if Calipari remains coach through the 2018-19 season.

Now 52, Calipari would be 60 at the end of the contract. He noted he's not trying to accumulate more wins than others.

"I'm not going to be coaching into my 70s," Calipari said. "I won't have my won-loss record on my tombstone. ... I'm concerned about am I doing right by my players?"

Other SEC coaches saluted Calipari's performance, which includes guiding the Cats to the Elite Eight and Final Four in his first two seasons and recruiting three straight classes ranked No. 1 nationally.

"Well, obviously, Coach Cal has done a tremendous job," Mississippi Coach Andy Kennedy said. "... I've said this many times, I think when you start setting the standard for the epitome of success (in) college basketball, you start with Kentucky."

After noting that Calipari had continued rather than built a Kentucky dynasty, Kennedy added, "It helps SEC basketball for Kentucky to be Kentucky. So I think it's good for our league for (the Cats) to enjoy the kind of success that they have."

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