Calipari says he's not interested in Arkansas job
By Dan Wolken
April 1, 2007
ATLANTA – University of Memphis coach John Calipari told The Commercial Appeal Sunday he was "never" offered the head coaching job at Arkansas and is not interested in the position.
Though Calipari did meet briefly with Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles this weekend, Calipari said, it was only to discuss potential candidates and offer advice on the coaching search.
"I’ve had a relationship with Frank Broyles going back to my UMass days," Calipari said inside the lobby of the Atlanta Hilton, where the National Association of Basketball Coaches were wrapping up their meetings.
Calipari said he was not aware of the rumors that he was interested in the Arkansas job until he began receiving phone calls Saturday night.
By then, word had leaked out that Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson had granted Arkansas permission to speak to Calipari. Then, a Little Rock television station, citing unnamed sources, reported that an offer was on the table to Calipari for more than $2 million annually.
"Not true," Calipari said.
From the moment the Arkansas rumors began to circulate, several close to Calipari expressed doubt that he would seriously consider leaving Memphis for Fayetteville.
Among the reasons were its rural location and the fact that Calipari would be leaving behind what should be his best team since coming to Memphis. The Tigers are expected to return all their top players, except senior Jeremy Hunt, and will add a recruiting class ranked 11th by Rivals.com. With the addition of the nation’s top high school point guard, Derrick Rose, Memphis should be ranked in the top-five of all preseason polls.
If Calipari left for any job, he’d also be walking away from a $2.5 million annuity he will collect if he coaches at Memphis through 2009-10. In other words, any job offer would have to guarantee an $833,000 raise over Calipari’s salary at Memphis over the next three seasons just to make the money match up. Calipari made $1.6 million this past season, excluding performance bonuses.
After Memphis was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Elite Eight last Saturday, Calipari said he wasn’t interested in any other coaching jobs and that he’d have the kind of team "you just don’t leave" unless the school’s commitment to the program changed.
Two days later, Calipari agreed in principle to a raise and one-year contract extension through 2011-12. Johnson said he would not reveal the amount of the raise until the extension is signed. Calipari has not signed the extension yet because he’s been in Massachusetts and Atlanta this week.
Asked if he was finished renegotiating his contract, Calipari said: "Yeah. That was done, what, two weeks ago?"
— Dan Wolken: 529-2365