John Calipari is leaving Kentucky for Arkansas


After multiple media outlets reported Sunday night that Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari was in discussions with Arkansas about their vacant coaching position, Calipari announced Tuesday that he was retiring from the Wildcats' program. In a video posted on

“This is a dream job, it was my dream job,” Calipari said. “Everyone in our profession looks at the University of Kentucky in basketball and says it’s the bluest of the blue. Over the last few weeks it has become clear to us that this program probably needs to hear a different voice. … We really enjoyed it here, but we think it’s time for us to step away from the program completely.”

Calipari did not mention Arkansas by name but indicated he is exploring his options to continue coaching.

“We have been given opportunities and we are discussing it as a family,” he said. “I love coaching. I love coaching young people.”

Calipari, signed by Memphis in 2009 to replace Billy Gillespie at Kentucky, led the Wildcats to four Final Fours in his first six seasons, including the school's eighth national title in 2012 and its first since 1998.

While Calipari continued to attract elite talent to Lexington – the Wildcats had 35 NBA first-round draft picks during his tenure, including No. 1 picks John Wall, Anthony Davis and Karl Anthony-Towns – his teams did not have the same NCAA Tournament success in the last decade. Kentucky, which hasn't played in the Sweet 16 since 2019, was surprised by a double-digit seed in the first round of the tournament last month for the second time in three years.

Five days after the third-seeded Wildcats' loss to No. 14 seed Oakland on March 21 raised questions about Calipari's future with the program, Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart issued a statement on X that Calipari would be back.

“As we typically do at the end of each season, Coach Calipari and I have had discussions regarding the direction of our men's basketball program and I can confirm that he will be returning for his 16th season as our head coach.” Barnhart wrote.

After Calipari posted his farewell video on Tuesday, Barnhart thanked the Hall of Famer for his time at Kentucky, which included a 410-123 record.

“We are grateful that John Calipari has led our program for the past 15 years, contributing to Kentucky’s legacy of championship success.” he wrote. “We are grateful to John for his many contributions to the university and our state, both on and off the field.”

Barnhart added that the school is “working diligently to hire a proven, highly committed coach who recognizes the importance of this program to our fans and the state of Kentucky.”

Calipari, who spent parts of three seasons as coach of the NBA's New Jersey Nets between stints in Massachusetts and Memphis before coming to Lexington, agreed to a lifetime contract with Kentucky in 2019. According to the terms of his contract, he would have been owed $33 million if Kentucky had released him. There is no severance pay for Calipari, who is moving to another job.

Arkansas went 16-17 and missed the tournament that season, after which Eric Musselman left the program to become head coach at Southern California. After replacing Mike Anderson in 2019, Musselman led the Razorbacks to consecutive Elite Eight appearances in 2021 and 2022 and a Sweet 16 berth in 2023.