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Kentucky's John Calipari finalizing deal to coach at Arkansas

UPI
Men's basketball coach John Calipari won 410 games over his 15-year tenure with the Kentucky Wildcats. File Photo by BIll Greenblatt/UPI

April 8 (UPI) -- Kentucky's John Calipari is expected to leave the school after 15 seasons to become the men's basketball coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Sources told ESPN, CBS Sports and The Athletic about the move Sunday night. His new contract is expected to be for five years.

The news of his expected departure came after Wildcats athletic director Mitch Barnhart announced last month that Calipari would return for the 2024-25 season.

Calipari, 65, posted a 410-123 record during his Kentucky tenure. The Wildcats won at least 21 games 14 times and made a dozen NCAA tournament appearances during that span.

The Wildcats also went to four Final Fours and won a national title under Calipari, but struggled recently in the postseason, with just one tournament win since 2019.

They went 23-10 this season with what was regarded as the top freshman class in the country. As a No. 3 seed, they then lost to No. 14 Oakland in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament.

Kentucky signed Calipari to a 10-year, $86 million contract in 2019. They retained the ability to terminate Calipari's contract at any time.

If the school opted to end that deal, without cause, before Calipari decided to step down and opt in to another role -- as a special assistant to the athletic director/university representative -- he would receive 75% of the deal's remaining compensation, a total of about $35 million. The contract states that the option for Calipari to make that move should be exercised by April 15.

Calipari owns an 855-263 career record, when including previous tenures at Memphis and UMass. The three-time Naismith Coach of the Year and Basketball Hall of Fame member is 57-22 in the NCAA tournament.

Former Arkansas coach Eric Musselman was officially announced as head coach of the Southern California men's basketball team on Thursday. Former Trojans coach Andy Enfield left the program last week to become coach at SMU.

Musselman logged a 111-59 record in five seasons at Arkansas. He took the Razorbacks to the NCAA tournament three times. Musselman, who won at least 20 games in his first four seasons at Arkansas, led the Razorbacks to a 16-17 record in 2023-24.