College Basketball
John Calipari confirms Kentucky departure; set to become next Arkansas coach
College Basketball

John Calipari confirms Kentucky departure; set to become next Arkansas coach

Updated Apr. 9, 2024 3:27 p.m. ET

John Calipari confirmed that he is leaving Kentucky on Tuesday, ending his tenure in Lexington after 15 seasons.

"Since our season ended, Ellen and I have spent a lot of time thinking about our time here at Kentucky. What it means to us, the friends we’ve made," Calipari said in a social media post. "On that court, regional championships, conference championships, Final Fours, the national title in 2012, it’s been a beautiful time for us. This is a dream job, it was my dream job. Anybody in our profession looks at the University of Kentucky in basketball and says, ‘That is the bluest of blue.’

"The last few weeks we’ve come to realize that this program probably needs to hear another voice, that the university as a whole has to have another voice giving guidance about this program that they hear. And the fans need to hear another voice. We’ve loved it here, but we think it’s time for us to step away and step away completely from the program."

Calipari didn't state where he's going next, but the Hall of Famer is leaving Kentucky to take the head coaching job at Arkansas, sources told FOX Sports late Sunday evening. 


"There have been opportunities that have been presented to us and we’re discussing them as a family," Calipari said. "I love coaching, I love coaching young people. This year’s team, I loved every day walking in. They’ve invigorated me. I love the chase for championships. I love bringing the kids together, it’s what I do and it’s who I am."

The 65-year-old Calipari, who arrived at Kentucky back in 2009 and led the Wildcats to a national championship in 2012, is making one of the most shocking coaching moves in the sport's history, staying in the SEC and taking over in Fayetteville. 

"We're appreciative of John Calipari leading our program for the last 15 years, adding to the legacy of championship success at Kentucky," Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart wrote in a social media post on Tuesday. "We're grateful to John for his many contributions to the University, and our state, both on and off the court."

After Barnhart gave Calipari a vote of confidence and decided to bring him back following another disappointing finish to a season in Lexington, with the Wildcats not making the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in four consecutive years, Calipari instead will take over for Eric Musselman, who left the Razorbacks on his own accord for USC this past week after a 16-17 campaign.

What got this deal done? Calipari's close relationship with John Tyson of the Tyson Family, who are among the top athletic donors to the University of Arkansas. According to sources, Calipari recently played golf with Tyson when rumors picked up about Musselman potentially leaving for the West Coast and Kentucky's fan base growing sour on Calipari.

Calipari's decision to leave threw out a buyout of over $33 million had Kentucky fired him. 

Calipari departs Kentucky with a 410-122 record in Lexington, but with just one win in the past four NCAA Tournaments, a span which includes first-round upsets to No. 15 seed Saint Peter's in 2022 and to No. 14 seed Oakland last month. 

Calipari built one of the biggest NBA talent factories in college basketball throughout his time at Kentucky, developing stars such as Anthony Davis, John Wall, Karl-Anthony Towns and De'Aaron Fox, among many others.

"It’s been a dream, what we’ve been able to do," Calipari said. "But 15 years? It’s time for another voice and you know I’m always going to be a fan. Thank you."


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