Calipari to UK nearing completion

All indications suggest that John Calipari of Memphis is Kentucky’s choice to be its new basketball coach.

Memphis Athletic Director R.C. Johnson said on Monday that he had granted his counterpart at UK, Mitch  Barnhart, permission to talk to Calipari about replacing Billy Gillispie.

“However, I will tell you that we are elated with the job John has done as our head coach and we will do everything in our power to retain his services at Memphis,” Johnson said in a statement .

Potential stumbling blocks remain. No one has a source saying UK and Calipari have agreed to a salary. Memphis is paying him in excess of $3 million per year.

Another potential stumbling block is all the younger players recruited by former UK Coach Billy Gillipsie. When those players, as young as eighth grader Michael Avery, agreed to scholarship offers, it drew criticism based on whether UK might renege on the commitments. UK president Lee Todd gave assurances that those commitments would be honored.

Would Calipari be willing to take the job knowing he had to give scholarships to those players? And it’s not such a small number: Dakotah Euton, Vinny Zollo, KC Ross-Miller, Dominique Ferguson and Avery.

Todd backed off that earlier commitment on Monday. He said he would have to think about whether he’d want the new coach to honor commitments made by Gillispie.

Also unknown is Calipari’s feelings about this year’s signees: Daniel Orton, Jon Hood, G.J. Vilarino and Konner Tucker.
People with an interest in UK’s basketball search have either spoke glowingly of Calipari or acknowledged him as the leading candidate.
ESPN college basketball commentator Dick Vitale spoke enthusiastically about the prospects of Calipari becoming Kentucky’s coach.
“He would be a grand slam,” Vitale said, “an absolute grand slam. He brings the whole package, the (Rick) Pitino package.”
Under Rick Pitino in the 1990s, Kentucky enjoyed one of its finest stretches of basketball in a program used to success. The Cats went to three Final Fours in a five-year period, winning the national championship in 1996.
Former UK All-American Mike Pratt, who is assisting the school’s search for a basketball coach, emphasized last weekend that the ideal candidate would be someone who can handle all aspects of college coaching: working with players, recruiting, public relations and, in Kentucky’s case, serving as an ambassador for the program, university and Commonwealth.
After noting the success Calipari had at Massachusetts (193-71) and Memphis (252-69), Vitale marveled at the winning Calipari could do with Kentucky’s resources.
“He would be an incredible superstar,” Vitale said.

6 comments ↓

#1 Steve Sheridan on 03.30.09 at 10:41 am

Wikipedia already has kentucky listed under Calipari’s coaching stops

#2 malcolm smith on 03.30.09 at 10:49 am

Calaperi (sp) sounds good. I was really worried that Travis Ford would be hired!

#3 chris on 03.30.09 at 10:50 am

hallelujah!, we could be back on top NEXT year. Think about what a super starting five: pg. Wall sg. Meeks sf. Xavier Henry/Miller pf. Patterson/Cousins C.Orton. Calipari is just what we need.

#4 colCatFan on 03.30.09 at 12:34 pm

here we go again… Kentuckys Shame…

sure we will cut down a few nets. but in the end we will find our selves on the cover of SI once again. UMass and Memphis aren’t UK.

Cal will fold under the pressure to win and win at all costs and that cost will be our shame…

BCG was a bad quick hire, and Cal is the same thing just different reasons.

#5 Beverly on 03.31.09 at 7:19 am

I think Calapari will bring back what we have been missing since the Tubby era. I feel Kentucky is a first class organization and the fans have been unhappy for some time. This is the first time I can remember ever having fans boo at a home game. I was so sad to hear and I felt bad for the players at the time. It isn’t their fault that they have not been coached to their full ability. I also feel bad for Gillispie because I am sure he wasn’t fully aware of all the Kentucky Basketball entailed. Go CATS and Go Calapari.

#6 Hot News » Calipari Kentucky on 03.31.09 at 5:28 pm

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