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Coach Mark Pope’s contract with UK basketball is now official. Here are the details.

The paperwork is official on Mark Pope’s contract as the new men’s basketball coach at the University of Kentucky.

Pope, a former UK player who spent the past five seasons as the head coach at BYU, was officially revealed as the next leader of the Wildcats’ program on April 12, three days after John Calipari announced his resignation to take the top job at Arkansas.

Nearly six weeks later, all major parties had officially signed off on the Pope era.

UK President Eli Capilouto added his signature to Pope’s contract on May 21, eight days after Pope and UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart signed their names to the deal. The Herald-Leader reviewed the terms of the contract Tuesday morning.

Pope agreed to a five-year deal worth $27.5 million — averaging $5.5 million over the term of the contract — plus several incentives and potential bonuses based on the Wildcats’ athletic and academic achievements.

For the 2024-25 season, Pope is due to receive $5 million, with his salary increasing by $250,000 each year through the 2028-29 season.

If Kentucky advances to the Sweet 16, the contract will be automatically extended by an additional season, with $250,000 added to his salary for each extra year as long as there are no more than five seasons remaining on the contract at that time.

In addition to Pope’s set salary, the 51-year-old coach will have the opportunity to make additional money on and off the court as head coach of the Wildcats.

Pope will receive $100,000 for an SEC regular-season championship and $50,000 if the Cats win the SEC Tournament.

Both achievements were rare in the final seasons under Calipari, who dominated the league early in his 15-year tenure but won just one SEC regular-season title in his final seven seasons as head coach. Kentucky last won the SEC Tournament in 2018 and has not advanced to the league title game since then.

Pope will also receive additional compensation for each time UK plays beyond the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, something the Cats have not done since 2019.

Kentucky’s new coach will earn $50,000 for a trip to the Sweet 16, $100,000 for a trip to the Elite Eight, $250,000 for a Final Four appearance and $500,000 for a national championship. That bonus is not cumulative for each round. So, for example, if UK wins the NCAA title, Pope would receive a maximum of $500,000.

UK has won just one NCAA Tournament game since 2019.

There are also separate $25,000 bonuses for APR and GPA benchmarks.

Mark Pope was introduced as the new men’s basketball coach at the University of Kentucky during a ceremony in Rupp Arena on April 14.
Mark Pope was introduced as the new men’s basketball coach at the University of Kentucky during a ceremony in Rupp Arena on April 14.

In addition to the other boilerplate language common in UK coaching contracts, the deal lays out terms for Pope’s potential departure before the end of the 2028-29 season.

If Pope is terminated without cause before the end of his contract, he will be owed 75% of the remaining compensation on the deal.

That’s the same percentage that would have been owed to Calipari under his final contract, though the former UK coach signed a massive extension — 10 years and $86 million — following the 2018-19 season. Calipari still had five years and $44.5 million left on that deal when he departed for Arkansas last month.

Pope can also opt out of his contract.

If the UK alumnus unexpectedly does that before the end of the deal, the total he would owe UK would depend on Barnhart’s status. If Barnhart is still UK’s AD, Pope would owe 33% of his remaining contract. If Barnhart is no longer the university’s athletics director, Pope would owe only 20% of his remaining contract.

Barnhart signed an extension last year through the 2027-28 school year.

UK basketball assistant coach salaries

In addition to Pope’s contract, deals for two of his initial hires as UK coach have been finalized.

Cody Fueger was the first announced addition to Kentucky’s new coaching staff. He has worked with Pope for more than a decade and has been one of his assistants for all nine of his previous seasons as a head coach, the last five at BYU and four at Utah Valley before that.

Fueger agreed to a two-year deal with UK, with a salary of $500,000 for the 2024-25 season and $525,000 for the 2025-26 season.

Associate coach Mark Fox has agreed to a one-year deal worth $200,000.

Both UK assistants will also be eligible for the same on-court bonuses based on the team’s success: an additional $20,000 for a Sweet 16 appearance, $30,000 for a trip to the Elite Eight, $50,000 for a Final Four appearance and $100,000 for a national championship. Fueger and Fox would also earn $30,000 for an SEC regular-season title and $20,000 if the Cats win the SEC Tournament.

Pope has also added associate head coach Alvin Brooks III and Jason Hart to his first UK coaching staff, though the details of their contracts have not yet been made public. Capilouto signed Fox’s contract on May 22 and Fueger’s contract on May 24.

Brooks, Fueger and Hart are the three UK assistants who will be permitted to join Pope in off-campus recruiting activities. Fox, who has 18 years of head coaching experience at the Division I level, will fill one of the two roles that will not be allowed to recruit off campus, but he will be permitted to engage in on-court instruction and other coaching activities.

Pope has not yet filled the fifth and final assistant coach position for next season.

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