Arkansas hires John Calipari as next men's basketball coach on 5-year deal


The University of Arkansas announced Wednesday that Hall of Fame coach John Calipari will serve as the next head coach of the men’s basketball team, a move that comes just one day after Calipari announced he was departing from Kentucky following a 15-year career with the Wildcats. 

Calipari, 65, signed a five-year deal that will see the veteran coach earn $7 million per season, the university said in a press release. The deal includes a $1 million signing bonus, $500,000 retention bonuses each year, and one-time bonuses based on how far the Razorbacks advance in the NCAA tournament. 

The Razorback mascot waves the team flag before the Vanderbilt Commodores game at Bud Walton Arena on Feb. 27, 2024, in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

“By all accounts, John Calipari is one of the premier coaches in college basketball,” Hunter Yurachek, Arkansas vice chancellor and director of athletics, said in a statement provided by the school. 

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“A national championship coach, a four-time national coach of the year and one of the nation’s top recruiters, Coach Cal has consistently demonstrated his ability to attract outstanding talent and build championship teams within the Southeastern Conference and position his programs among the best in the nation.”

“As I visited with Coach Calipari during this process, he acknowledged the tremendous opportunity we have at the University of Arkansas to attract and retain top players and compete for championships,” Yurachek continued. “He understands the deep passion of the Razorback Nation and has experienced the tremendous home court advantage of Bud Walton Arena. I have no doubt that under Coach Calipari’s leadership and with the collective support of all those who love the Hogs, Razorback Basketball will continue to maintain its national prominence within college basketball.”

Calipari, the winningest active coach in men’s college basketball with a career record of 855-263, stepped away from his position at Kentucky on Tuesday following a first-round exit in this year’s NCAA tournament. 

John Calipari on court

Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats walks off the court after losing to the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at PPG PAINTS Arena on March 21, 2024, in Pittsburgh. (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

JOHN CALIPARI ADDRESSES DECISION TO ‘STEP AWAY’ FROM KENTUCKY: ‘TIME FOR ANOTHER VOICE’

“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,” Calipari said, speaking for him and his family, in a video message posted to X. 

“We’ve loved it here, but we think it’s time for us to step away and step away completely from the program.”

Calipari took over for Eric Musselman, who left Arkansas this year for the job at Southern California. 

Kentucky huddle

Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats talks to players during the Oakland Golden Grizzlies game in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at PPG PAINTS Arena on March 21, 2024, in Pittsburgh. (Justin K. Aller/ NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

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Arkansas will introduce Calipari at a press conference on Wednesday evening. He takes over the program after a 16-17 finish last season. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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