Is John Calipari posturing to receive more from the University of Memphis, or is he ready to kiss Memphis good-bye? There has been so much buzz today in the sports world, locally and nationally. Will John Calipari stay at the University of Memphis or will he take the coveted position of head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky? This will be updated as information becomes available.
Last Friday when Calipari returned from the loss to Missouri in the sweet sixteen in the NCAA Tournament, the Commercial Appeal quoted Cal, “Memphis is where I want to coach. . . When we win, and everybody loves to win, players go to the pros, and there are people that will come at me,€ Calipari said Thursday night after his team€™s 102-91 loss to Missouri in the NCAA Tournament€™s Sweet 16. €œThat€™s just how it is. I€™m happy, happy with the program, happy with the people. I love Memphis. And like I said, I just need to kick back and hide from everybody for a couple days.€
A WREG story states, “former WREG TV sports Director George Lapides says Johnson said Calipari is still a U of M coach but asked if he will be at the end of the day, Johnson reportedly replied “No”.
Another story from WPTY says, “University of Memphis Head Basketball Coach John Calipari is sounding like he will follow the money to the University of Kentucky. That is the statement made to MyEyewitnessNews.com by a member of this year’s Tigers team following a team meeting with the coach. “Yes, we met with him. He was talking like he was going to leave,” was the quote from the player who attended this morning’s meeting.”
And the Commercial Appeal reports, “While Calipari did not say explicitly what he planned to do, some players left the meeting convinced that Calipari would take the job, according to a source. Calipari told the team that Kentucky was the Notre Dame of basketball.”
WMCTV.com says , “A source close to situation tells Action News 5’s Jarvis Greer that University of Memphis basketball head coach John Calipari will leave the Tigers to take the job of head coach at the University of Kentucky.” It goes on to say, “Players Wesley Witherspoon and Roburt Sallie are expected to transfer to Kentucky along with Calipari. Willie Kemp and Pierre Henderson-Niles will stay with the Tigers. Shawn Taggart will pass up his final year of eligibility and will graduate in May.”
WPTY reports from the UK student newspaper, “Apparently, Calipari could not resist the lure of what he calls ‘the Notre Dame of college basketball.’ He has rejected the counter offer from Memphis and will sign on and be introduced as the new Wildcats’ head coach as soon as late this afternoon. The contract is rumored to be worth about $40 million over six years, an NCAA-record $6.67 million per anum.”
Update: 3/31/09 11:15am: According to this Commercial Appeal story, John Calipari was seen this morning with friends at Gibson’s Donuts in Memphis. Calipari said, “In addition to Kentucky, Arizona came after him over the weekend offering not a salary but a blank check. Calipari said, “No thanks.” And went on to say, “He loves Memphis but is drawn to the history and prestige of Kentucky. Calipari said it’s one of five programs — along with North Carolina, Duke, UCLA and Kansas — any coach would have to consider.”
“Things will be OK here,” he said. And also “Taking the job is the easy part of the decision. Leaving here is the hard part.” The story says, “He said he hadn’t made up his mind. He was going to drive around Memphis today and decide this afternoon.”
Update: 4/1/09 9:00am: Done deal! John Calipari is the new head coach at the University of Kentucky. Calipari said several times how emotional and difficult the decision to leave Memphis was. He’ll be back in Memphis at noon to have a press conference with the University of Memphis. Memphis will be kissed good-bye! Good luck Cal!