Kentucky calling on Coach Cal
Published 12:08 pm Tuesday, March 31, 2009
By By WILL GRAVES, AP Sports Writer
LEXINGTON, Ky. — The University of Memphis has given Kentucky permission to speak to coach John Calipari about the Wildcats’ head coaching position.
Athletic director R.C. Johnson said in a statement Monday that Calipari could meet with Kentucky representatives, but stressed Memphis will do whatever it can to retain the coach.
Calipari did not immediately return a text message from The Associated Press. Several Memphis players did not respond to e-mail messages left by the AP.
DeWayne Peevy, a Kentucky spokeman, would not confirm or deny an ESPN report that Wildcats officials had already met with Calipari and were prepared to offer him the job. Athletic director Mitch Barnhart did not respond to AP requests for comment.
The school fired Billy Gillispie Friday after two seasons.
The Commercial Appeal newspaper reported on its Web site that Calipari met with his players Monday morning.
Calipari just concluded his ninth season at Memphis and has a 137-14 record over the past four seasons in which the Tigers were the only team to earn either a No. 1 or 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. He guided Memphis to a national runner-up finish last season, and the Tigers (33-4) were ousted in the West Regional semifinal on Thursday night.
He currently has the top-rated recruiting class in the country headed to Memphis, but his latest recruit 6-foot-10 DeMarcus Cousins committed verbally within the past month and could follow Calipari to Kentucky if the coach leaves.
Landing Calipari won’t be cheap. He has four years left on his contract paying him $2.35 million annually. He also has an annuity averaging $1 million over the deal through 2013.
Calipari, never one to shy away from a camera, would seem to have the charisma to match Louisville coach Rick Pitino.