UK Men's Basketball

Calipari signs new long-term contract to continue ‘special chapter’ at Kentucky.

On Thursday, the University of Kentucky announced the terms of John Calipari’s new contract. The announcement defined what was meant by an earlier announcement of an upcoming “lifetime contract” for the UK basketball coach. The contract calls for him to coach the Wildcats until he is 70 years old, or through the 2028-29 season.

The new 10-year contract represents a five-year extension. UK will pay Calipari, who turned 60 on Feb. 10, a total compensation of $86 million in those 10 years.

Calipari’s base pay of $400,000 remains unchanged. Incidentally, that was his base pay in the original contract he signed with UK on March 31, 2009.

His compensation from broadcast duties and endorsement deals will increase by 72 percent over the final four seasons of the new contract: from $5,000,000 in the 2018-19 season to $8,600,000.

“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 news release announcing details of the new contract. “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 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.”

As indicated in the earlier announcement of a lifetime contract in the works, Calipari will have an option to retire from coaching and remain at UK as what the contract calls a “Special AD Assistant.” That option becomes available after the next six seasons. If Calipari took that job, his compensation would change to a base of $400,000 plus $550,000 from broadcast duties and endorsements.

The new contract lists the duties for the presumptive “Special AD Assistant” as involving fund-raising and increasing interest of UK students and fans.

In his first 10 seasons as UK coach, Calipari has compiled a win-loss record of 305-71. This past season he reached the 300-victory mark at one school in the fourth-fastest time in NCAA history.

In leading Kentucky to four Final Four appearances in a five-year span (2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015), Calipari matched an achievement previously done by only two coaches: John Wooden and Mike Krzyzewski.

Calipari and Rick Pitino are the only coaches to lead three different schools to a Final Four.

“One of the truly unique things about Kentucky men’s basketball is its legacy of head coaches who have made their own lasting mark on this program,” Barnhart said in the UK news release. “John is a perfect illustration of that. He has added a special chapter to the greatest tradition in college basketball and it’s a chapter we want him to continue writing until the end of his coaching career. We are pleased to announce a new contract that will enable him to do exactly that.”

The contract calls for UK to pay Calipari $8 million in each of the next two seasons: $400,000 base plus $7,600,000 from broadcast and endorsements. Incidentally, the contract he signed on March 20, 2017 (which was his sixth in his first eight years as UK coach) called for the $8 million total compensation beginning in the 2021-22 season and continuing through 2023-24.

Under terms of the new contract, Calipari will receive $8.5 million in 2021-22, 2022-23, 2023-24 and 2024-25. His pay will increase to $9 million in the final four seasons of the contract: 2025-26, 2026-27, 2027-28 and 2028-29.

In addition to making millions each year, Calipari will also receive from UK two “late-model quality automobiles for his official and personal use.” UK must also reimburse him for “all business related mileage.”

Calipari will also receive 20 “prime, lower-level tickets” for each home and away game, plus all postseason games. He will also have the option to buy 20 more tickets for those games.

UK must also provide Calipari with eight tickets for each home football game and pay for his membership to a “local golf and country club of his choice.” The latter also calls for UK to pay any monthly dues and initiation fees.

If fired for cause, UK would not be obligated to pay Calipari any “compensation whatsoever,” the contract reads. “For cause” is defined as major violations of NCAA or Southeastern Conference rules, academic fraud, conviction of a felony, gambling on college sports or being compensated for arranging a meeting between a player and an agent.

If UK chose to fire Calipari without cause, the school must give him 30 days notice and 75 percent of the remaining compensation called for in the contract.

If Calipari chooses to take the “Special AD Assistant” job anytime after six more seasons as coach, UK must provide him with eight lower-level tickets to any home and postseason basketball games. He would have the option to buy eight more tickets.

The new contract does not call for Calipari to receive a “retention bonus” for remaining on the job. The only incentive bonus Calipari would receive is tied to the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate. If the UK team has a rating of 975 or better, Calipari will receive $50,000. That sum is unchanged from the previous contract.

In each of the last five seasons, Kentucky has finished in the top 10 percent nationally among Division I teams in APR.