LEXINGTON, Ky. — John Calipari agreed Tuesday to leave Memphis and the dominant program he built and take on the challenge — and riches — of returning Kentucky to college basketball glory.
Calipari will receive an eight-year, $31.65 million deal plus incentives, according to the university, making him the highest-paid coach in college basketball. The school also will pay Memphis a $200,000 buyout.
ESPN.com reported that the deal was worth $35 million, including a $2.5 million signing bonus.
The 50-year-old Calipari has a career record of 445-140 in 17 seasons. He chose to leave Memphis after nine seasons of success, including a record of 137-14 over the past four years.
He spent the day considering the Wildcats’ lucrative offer and calling former Kentucky coaches, including Joe B. Hall.
Hall said the informal chat centered on what it takes to survive one of college basketball’s most prestigious and most scrutinized jobs. Kentucky fired Billy Gillispie last Friday after two disappointing seasons.
The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tenn., first reported the hiring.
Tigers walk-on Preston Laird said Calipari met with the team Tuesday afternoon, first as a group and then with individual players. The freshman guard described the meeting as very quiet, “Nobody really said anything.”
“He started off by telling us it was the hardest day of his life,” Laird said.
Mizzou’s Anderson to stay
Mike Anderson has agreed to a new seven-year contract and will remain Missouri’s men’s basketball coach.
The announcement caps a whirlwind couple of days for the school and Anderson, who had been mentioned for coaching vacancies at Georgia and Memphis.
The university said financial details of the new deal will be announced later. Anderson previously earned a base annual salary of $850,000.
VCU to hire Gators assistant
A Virginia Commonwealth University official says the school has picked Florida assistant coach Shaka Smart to be its new men’s basketball coach.
The official familiar with the decision told The Associated Press that Smart has not yet signed a contract, but an announcement is planned for Thursday.
The 32-year-old Smart was an assistant to Billy Donovan at Florida last season and will become the second consecutive Donovan assistant to take over as the Rams’ head coach.
Purdue C Johnson to return
Purdue center JaJuan Johnson has decided to return for his junior year after having a breakout season for the Boilermakers.
The All-Big Ten selection told The Associated Press about his decision in an e-mail Tuesday.
The 6-foot-10 sophomore says he’s not ready for the NBA, and he will focus on getting stronger and improving his shot.