Calipari can shift to advisory role under new deal

Based on the new 10-year, $86 million contract extension he just signed, John Calipari intends to retire at Kentucky — one way or another.

The university on Thursday announced details of the extension, which expires after the 2028-2029 season, when Calipari will turn 70 and make $9 million if he is still in his role as head coach.

But the deal also gives Calipari the option to step down after the sixth year to become special assistant to the athletic director, a promotional and fundraising job that would pay him $950,000 per year.

Either way, the coach said he intends to finish his career in Lexington.

“I want to thank the university, [president] Dr. Eli Capilouto, [athletic director] Mitch Barnhart and [deputy AD] DeWayne Peevy for approaching me with the opportunity to finish my career at Kentucky,” Calipari said in the school’s release. “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.”

The deal does not appear to contain a buyout provision if Calipari decides to accept another job. Kentucky, however, wants to make sure it’s aware of any outside offers.

The contract explicitly requires Calipari to inform the university whenever he’s approached about a job. Calipari is often the subject of rumors at both the NBA and collegiate levels. After UCLA reportedly approached him about its vacancy after it fired Steve Alford in March, Calipari said he planned to stay at Kentucky but would always “listen to people” who call about other jobs.

“During the Term of this agreement, Coach shall notify the Director of Athletics of any offers of employment, employment opportunities or requests for meetings or discussions with respect to possible employment opportunities before engaging in substantive discussions regarding such employment or employment opportunities,” Calipari’s extension states.

Entering his 11th year with the Wildcats, Calipari has amassed a 305-71 record, made four Final Four appearances, sent more players to the NBA than any Division I coach since his arrival and captured the 2012 national title.

His extension is worth more overall than the 10-year, $75 million deal Texas A&M‘s Jimbo Fisher signed last year. Calipari also will make more annually than Alabama football coach Nick Saban, who reportedly makes $8.3 million per year.

The extension contains standard language for termination with cause, in which case the school wouldn’t owe Calipari any money. If he’s terminated without cause, Kentucky would owe Calipari 75 percent of the remaining sum on his contract, or 100 percent of the $950,000 a year if he’s already become special assistant to the athletic director.

With the compensation and the length of the deal, however, all signs point to Calipari spending the rest of his career with Kentucky.

“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 school’s 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.”

Among other interesting elements included in the extension:

• Calipari gets 20 lower-level tickets to each home and away game, and he can purchase 20 more.
• Calipari, who is known for his work ethic on the offseason recruiting trail, gets a month of paid vacation every year.
• Calipari gets a $50,000 bonus whenever the team achieves an Academic Progress Rate of 975 or higher.

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