UK Officials draw line in the sand

Whether you love him or hate him, when coach John Calipari's name comes up in sports conversations, there's always a reaction, and usually it's a passionate one. Kentucky's highly successful and often controversial coach normally needs little to inspire heated conversation but when news broke of Calipari's new contract, the airwaves and blogosphere came alive with activity.

Whether you love him or hate him, when coach John Calipari's name comes up in sports conversations, there's always a reaction, and usually it's a passionate one. Kentucky's highly successful and often controversial coach normally needs little to inspire heated conversation but when news broke of Calipari's new contract, the airwaves and blogosphere came alive with activity.

Calipari's new deal is worth $36.5 million with the opportunity to earn performance-based incentives. While reaction from outside the state of Kentucky ranged from head nods to feigned surprise to genuine outrage, Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhardt was anything but apologetic, "What John Calipari has done on and off the court in the past two years to reunite and rejuvenate this fan base has been magical," Barnhart said. "He understands the responsibility that goes along with this position and there is no other coach out there that is a better fit for the best basketball program in the country."

Much, perhaps even most, of the basketball community understood and even applauded the move to keep the high profile coach in the Bluegrass State and away from the temptations of the NBA. NBA teams aren't paying salaries in this range in today's market, meaning Calipari has now effectively priced himself out of the professional market.

Many publications, such as the International Business Times, have fully bought in, "Calipari is now in his 17th season has a head coach of a college basketball coach. While other coaches have faded off a bit, Calipari continues to dominate as a recruiter and his teams consistently win. The bottomline for Calipari is despite the early departure of players, he manages to make up for them with an endless stream of strong freshmen."

YahooSports! Jason King not only said, "Some analysts may deem the salary excessive, but if anyone deserves that kind of money, it's Calipari," but he went on to draw a stark contrast to the high contracts of many of Calipari's coaching brethren who have failed to produce results.

Calipari's brief tenure at Kentucky has been marked with incredible success, including an appearance in this past year's final four. Still, the coach has drawn the ire of the NCAA in a major way. Memphis standout's Derrick Rose's qualifying standardized test score was deemed invalid. Enes Kanter was ruled ineligible and Calipari's win total was shaved due to a vacated NCAA appearance where Calipari himself wasn't implicated. All this seems to serve as foreshadowing of ugliness yet to come.

Kentucky's administration seems undaunted, however and Calipari's new contract is clearly a sign that the University has drawn a line in the sand and intends to go the distance with their man.


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