Citing Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari, legislator wants to ban lifetime contracts

Kentucky’s John Calipari couldn’t believe a call against Arkansas.Feb. 7, 2023
Kentucky’s John Calipari couldn’t believe a call against Arkansas.Feb. 7, 2023

FRANKFORT, Ky. — A Kentucky legislator filed a bill Thursday to prohibit state universities from giving lifetime contracts to employees, citing the contract of University of Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari.

"The primary motivation … obviously there's a basketball coach in this state that has a lifetime contract," said state Rep. Patrick Flannery, R-Olive Hill. "I think we probably know who we're talking about."

House Bill 336 of Flannery does not specifically mention Calipari, but it amends state law to say the governing boards of Kentucky's postsecondary institutions are prohibited from entering "into any contract for lifetime employment."

In 2019, Calipari signed what has been called a lifetime contract at UK, allowing him to transition into an ambassador role with a $1 million contract after he retires from coaching.

More:How John Calipari's contract has changed over 10 years as Kentucky's basketball coach

Calipari and the Wildcats are in the midst of a third consecutive season panned by fans as disappointing, facing increased criticism from fans. The Wildcats (17-9, 8-5 SEC) ⁠beat Mississippi State 71-68 Wednesday night, picking up a crucial win as it fights to make the NCAA Tournament.

However, Flannery said his bill is not a reaction to recent disappointing seasons, but his belief that lifetime contracts for public employees is poor policy, which he has increasingly heard from constituents.

"A lot of things can happen, the employer-employee situation may just not work, eventually," Flannery said. "I really think it's probably the best public policy to not allow that."

More:LIST: Here's the latest on key bills from the 2023 Kentucky legislature

Flannery said his bill would not retroactively rescind lifetime contracts like Calipari's, but it would prevent similar contracts in the future.

Asked what he though of Calipari's recent performance, Flannery said "most people would hope for a better record at this point" but that the bill "is not really a personal criticism of him."

"I know everybody likes to be a head coach after the game when there's a loss," Flannery said. "I mean, he's a hall of famer."

Flannery said he's not much of a fan of UK or any other college team, as he's "more of a pro (sports) guy."

Reach reporter Joe Sonka at and follow him on Twitter at @joesonka.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Lawmaker wants to ban lifetime contracts like UK gave John Calipari