It's official: Arkansas trumpets hire of John Calipari

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 10 Apr, 2024 at 03:23 PM

Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

John Calipari officially is on board as the new head coach at Arkansas.

After 15 seasons at Kentucky, Calipari jumped to the Razorbacks in what is expected to be a landmark deal orchestrated after Eric Musselman was hired to leave Arkansas to become USC's head coach.

Calipari's five-year contract, worth a reported $7.1 million per season, formally was approved by Arkansas on Tuesday.

"By all accounts, John Calipari is one of the premier coaches in college basketball," said Hunter Yurachek, Arkansas athletic director. "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. 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."

Musselman guided Arkansas to the Sweet 16 three consecutive years with two Elite Eight trips before the Razorbacks finished tied for 11th in the SEC and posted a record of 16-17 to miss the NCAA Tournament in March.

Calipari has one NCAA Tournament win (2023) since he last took a team to the Sweet 16 in 2019 and hasn't been to the Final Four since 2014-15.

Calipari has coached in the Final Four six times with 813 career wins over stops at UMass, Memphis and Kentucky, where his reputation as a producer of NBA talent was unprecedented. Calipari coached seven Kentucky players named to the 2024 NBA All-Star Game. One -- Knicks forward Julius Randle -- was unable to participate due to a shoulder injury. He's expected to add at least two players to a list of 40 former players who were drafted in the first round.

But Calipari said in a video farewell to Kentucky on Tuesday that it was time for "a new voice" in Lexington. Kentucky bowed out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round last month, losing to No. 14 seed Oakland two years after being eliminated in the first round by Cinderella story Saint Peter's, a No. 15 seed.

--Field Level Media