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Friday, April 14, 2006

Calipari Finally Breaks Silence

By: Matt Laurie
Sports Editor, Daily Helmsman, University of Memphis

Before a banquet at the Holiday Inn near The University of Memphis campus, basketball coach John Calipari finally talked to the media.
Fifteen minutes later, the silence was shattered and Calipari told why he didn't leave Memphis for North Caroline State.
"It was the players, it wasn't the deal," Calipari said. "If it were the deal I'd be at the other school."
Along with staying in Memphis Calipari earns a new contract that will, in theory, keep him here through the 2010-11 season.
According to reports, Calipari's base salary will increase from $1.1 million to $1.3 million, not including incentives that boost the package to $1.7 million.
The new deal also stipulates a raise for Calipari's assistants and improvements to the Finch Center.
However, Calipari admits, the N.C. State job was enticing.
"You're talking about an ACC job, unbelievable facilities and resources, you're talking about quality of life," he said. "There's just so many things when it got to where 'Maybe I should look at this,' So I did."
Calipari confirmed that a flight was taken to N.C. State and equated the trip to a CIA mission, completed under secrecy.
U of M Athletic Director R.C. Johnson, who was on the road with the Tiger Scholarship Fund, was not there for the press conference, but said in a statement released by the athletic department earlier today, "Six years ago we hired John Calipari as head coach for our basketball program and he made three commitments," said Johnson. "First, graduate student-athletes under his tutelage. Next, place this basketball program on a national stage and compete for championships. Finally, rekindle and strengthen the bond between the city and the basketball program. He's accomplished all three. John has committed to the university and the community, just as we have committed to him."
Calipari said the relationship between he and Johnson is fine and both Johnson and University President Shirley Raines knew every step he was taking in looking at N.C. State.
"The thing that was most important to me is the vision that I have for the program, and that everyone is on the same page," Calipari said.
When asked if there was a job that could make him leave Memphis, Calipari said, "…not right now."
In his six years at Memphis, Calipari has compiled a record of 148-59 and a record of 341-130 in 14 seasons. He's won four NCAA championship games while at Memphis and has averaged almost 25 wins per season.
His 148 victories are the most by a Memphis coach in any six-year span.
However, with that success, he still hasn't completed what he's set out to do at Memphis.
"What I want to do here we haven't accomplished yet," he said.

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