John Calipari and Marques Bolden
John Calipari wrote Monday that he plans for his coaching career to end at Kentucky, where he wants to put the men’s basketball program on track for surpassing UCLA’s record of 11 national championships.
“How long can I coach here? My plan is to coach here for the rest of my career,” Calipari wrote in a posting on his CoachCal.com website Monday. “I want this to be my final coaching position.”
The posting, titled The Vision of the Program: What We’re Chasing, also included a call for scholarships for life (enabling players who leave the program for the NBA to return at any future year to complete work on a degree) and continuing improvements on Rupp Arena — he also hinted at a new arena someday — to make Kentucky basketball about an overall experience in addition to a mere game.
This vision is aimed “to further cement Kentucky basketball as the gold standard in all of collegiate athletics,” Calipari said in the posting.
Calipari, who became UK coach in 2009, acknowledged that it will not be easy for Kentucky to increase its national championships from the current eight to more than UCLA’s 11.
“I hope you understand that it’s going to be very difficult,” he said in the posting. “We’ve won eight titles since 1948, and now we’re going to try to win four more. This could take more than a decade, but so what? Let’s chase it. Can we do it? Sure, but it’s going to be really tough.”
Calipari, 57, has won one national championship in his seven seasons as UK coach. By that timetable, he would have to coach until age 85 to win four more.
“I never thought I would coach until the age of 60,” Calipari said in the posting. “I said that from the day I got here back in 2009. But now that I’m here and I’m entering my eighth season — how crazy is that?! — one thing has become very clear to me: I’ve gone from the business of basketball to the business of helping families. That’s not just a fancy line used on a recruiting pitch. That’s the truth. That’s why I’m here and that’s what’s allowed me to do this. As long as I feel like I can continue to help families, why not keep going?”
The posting did not include a new target date for retirement.
Calipari noted the improvements to Rupp Arena, which will include a new scoreboard/video boards hanging over center court next season. He said he wanted to improve the fans’ experience at home games.
“I want people lining up to get tickets because of how much fun they had at our arena and the atmosphere,” he said. “Will a new arena be in our future? I don’t know, but either way our iconic building needs to give us a great advantage on many fronts.”
Calipari closed the posting by saying this vision will have critics.
“There will be some who will attack me, attack the program, attack the approach, and some will even say, ‘He only talks about the NBA,’” the UK coach said. “But I can only tell our fans it’s similar to what Frank Sinatra once said: Our best response . . . is massive success.”