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Calipari, Kentucky near monster deal


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Talks between Kentucky and Memphis coach John Calipari have intensified and the two sides are moving closer to an agreement that could make him the highest-paid coach in the country.

According to sources close to the Tigers coach, Calipari is close to a deal that will pay him in excess of $5 million per season.

Kentucky has asked for, and been given permission to speak with Calipari. Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson said in a statement Monday that Calipari could meet with Kentucky representatives, but stressed Memphis will do whatever it can to retain the coach.

Calipari is 252-69 in nine seasons at Memphis and led the Tigers to the national title game a year ago, where they lost to Kansas in overtime. Memphis lost to Missouri on Thursday night in the Sweet 16.

Calipari has expressed significant interest in the Kentucky job over the last few years, sources told FOXSports.com, and was disappointed that he wasn't contacted two years ago prior to the hiring of Billy Gillispie, who was fired last week after a two-year record of 40-27. Another motivating factor in his decision, according to a source, is being down the road from Louisville coach Rick Pitino. The two have not gotten along in recent years and Calipari would likely relish the opportunity to go head-to-head against Pitino both on the court and in recruiting.

Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart made an attempt to lure Florida coach Billy Donovan last week, but the Gators coach turned the Wildcats down for the second time in two years.

Barnhart, through a third-party representative, received word that Villanova's Jay Wright, Texas' Rick Barnes and Michigan State's Tom Izzo were not interested in the job.

So Barnhart turned his attention to Calipari, who has done a terrific job in rebuilding the Memphis program and taking the Tigers to four consecutive Sweet 16 berths.

Calipari is also an ideal pick for one of the most storied programs in history because of his willingness to mix with fans, boosters and also endear himself to the administration — something that Gillispie was unable to do in his brief tenure in Lexington.

According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Calipari met with his players Monday morning to discuss his involvement with the Kentucky opening. At least some of the players left the meeting convinced that Calipari would take the job. Calipari told the team that Kentucky was the Notre Dame of basketball, the paper reported, citing an unnamed source.

However, senior Antonio Anderson, who was not at the meeting, said he spoke with Calipari this morning and several of his former teammates.

"Most of them think he's staying," Anderson said. "But he's going to see what Kentucky is talking about. I don't think he'll end up going because of what he's built at Memphis. It would be too tough for him to leave all of that."

Calipari has lured an impressive recruiting class that includes shooting guard Xavier Henry and big man DeMarcus Cousins. However, there's a chance that Cousins, who hasn't signed with the school, could follow Calipari to Kentucky. The Tigers were also the leader for the nation's top point guard, John Wall, who could also begin to consider Kentucky if Calipari leaves.

Landing Calipari won't be cheap. He has four years left on his contract paying him $2.35 million annually. He also has an annuity averaging $1 million over the deal through 2013. Throw in whatever settlement Kentucky negotiates with Gillispie, the Wildcats could have nearly $10 million invested in the head coach of its basketball program next year.

That fact has had little effect on one of college basketball's most ardent fan bases, which seemed to be electrified by the possibility of getting Calipari. A Facebook group called "Bring John Calipari to UK" had swelled to more than 9,000 members as of Monday afternoon while a popular Kentucky message board had over 15,000 people on it during the lunch hour.

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I think DeMarcus Cousins will suit up for Kentucky next season, he hasnt signed anything just a oral commit to Memphis. John Wall is also an interesting option hes leaning towards Memphis right now so Calipari might reel him into Kentucky instead

I'm pretty confident that Wall is Baylor bound. He is almost certainly going to be a one-and-done, so I doubt he wants to go to a program like Kentucky or Memphis where he isn't going to be *the* guy.

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WMC-TV in Memphis is reporting that Memphis coach John Calipari will accept an offer from Kentucky to become the men's basketball coach for the Wildcats barring any breakdown in negotiations, and will take his coaching staff with him and a number of players. WMC broke into regular programming with a report from their sports director, Jarvis Greer, who said he has learned from a reliable source that Calipari will be the next coach at UK and that two Memphis players, Wesley Witherspoon and Roburt Sallie, will transfer to Kentucky.

http://www.lex18.com/Global/story.asp?S=10096463

If true those are two good pickups. Witherspoon is 6'8 and can play the 1,2,3, and 4. Very versatile.

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Kentucky officials expect John Calipari to accept an offer to become their program's next basketball coach, a source close to the school told CBSSports.com on Monday. The source said UK believes it could introduce Calipari within the next 48 hours, that athletic director Mitch Barnhart is merely waiting for the "Yes" he believes is imminent, barring an unsuspected hang-up in the final stages of negotiations.

"It's close, but it's not quite done," one source on the Memphis side told CBSSports.com. "Kentucky is pretty sure it's done, but you know Cal, he could change his mind at the last minute."

A source said Calipari has the guidelines of the offer in place, and that "his people are reviewing it." The source said the offer would make Calipari the highest-paid college coach in America, though details remain sketchy. A separate source said the Memphis assistants are already touching base with recruits to make sure they'd jump to the SEC with them, and a different source said Memphis freshman Wesley Witherspoon would likely follow Calipari to Kentucky.

Assuming Calipari leaves, expect Memphis to target Missouri coach Mike Anderson or Southern California coach Tim Floyd.

An industry source said Anderson will listen. Floyd's possible level of interest is unclear.

Also, a source close to Calipari tells CBSSports.com that the coach is pushing the school to look at Tony Barbee as a successor. Barbee played for Calipari at Massachusetts and was a Memphis assistant before becoming UTEP head coach in 2006.

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Calipari had a conversation with Joe B Hall about coaching at Kentucky afterwards Hall said that Calipari was still undecided on where he would be next season also Xavier Henry said he has a letter from when he signed his LOI that allows him to opt out of it if Calipari leaves although he said he would be wide open to anyone if he left

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Calipari had a conversation with Joe B Hall about coaching at Kentucky afterwards Hall said that Calipari was still undecided on where he would be next season also Xavier Henry said he has a letter from when he signed his LOI that allows him to opt out of it if Calipari leaves although he said he would be wide open to anyone if he left

Yep. One of the things that Calipari does is give all of his recruits the permission to back out of their commitment *if* he (Calipari) leaves the school. He has done that for a while now, and it definitely appeals to recruits.

FWIW, somebody I pay a lot of attention to when it comes to recruiting believes that John Wall will follow Calipari to Kentucky (obviously he's not the only one that thinks this). I still think he's headed to Baylor, but this guy is usually spot-on when it comes to recruiting.

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Yep. One of the things that Calipari does is give all of his recruits the permission to back out of their commitment *if* he (Calipari) leaves the school. He has done that for a while now, and it definitely appeals to recruits.

FWIW, somebody I pay a lot of attention to when it comes to recruiting believes that John Wall will follow Calipari to Kentucky (obviously he's not the only one that thinks this). I still think he's headed to Baylor, but this guy is usually spot-on when it comes to recruiting.

he does that for himself and he has no power to do that btw.. when a student athlete signs they sign with the university not with the coach.. calipari does it so that he can get a player he recruited to follow him if he goes elsewhere.. it's a fail safe for him. the university (primarily the AD) will decided if that player is allowed out of their scholarship..

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