If Kentucky fires John Calipari, the buyout is absolutely bonkers

Kentucky basketball head coach John Calipari. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky basketball head coach John Calipari. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) /

John Calipari’s buyout could be a sizable obstacle if Kentucky basketball wants to fire their head coach after an early NCAA Tournament exit.

Kentucky basketball head coach John Calipari has won a national championship and taken the Wildcats to four Final Fours during his tenure.

The world of college basketball is a “what have you done for me lately?” environment though, so the head coach is now on the hot seat in the eyes of many Wildcat fans.

Coming off a 9-16 season in 2020-21, Kentucky was expected to return to the NCAA Tournament and get things back on track this year. Instead, the No. 2-seed Wildcats were bounced in a stunning first-round upset by No. 15 Saint Peter’s.

If UK views that as a firable offense, it’s going to cost them.

John Calipari buyout: Kentucky basketball would pay hefty price to fire coach

Calipari’s buyout is $52 million this year, according to Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio. The buyout will decrease by around $6 million per year during the remainder of his 10-year “lifetime contract.”

How did the Wildcats go from extending Calipari for the remainder of his career to talking over his buyout? He hasn’t led his team back to a Final Four since 2015. They’ve made two Elite Eight appearances since but they haven’t sniffed another title. The longer the drought extends, the more pressure lands on the head coach.

There may be disappointment in Kentucky circles over the recent March Madness form of Calipari’s team, but that’s a lot of money to give up to move on. It’s hard to imagine they’d actually consider going that far.

If he doesn’t make a mark in the tournament next year, the discussion might start to turn.

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