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Report: Kentucky releases Mark Pope contract details, incentives

Grant Grubbsby:Grant Grubbs04/15/24


Evaluating The Significance Of Mark Pope's First Coaching Staff At Kentucky | 04.12.24

On Monday, the “Lexington Herald-Leader” obtained contract details for Kentucky’s new head coach, Mark Pope. The 51-year-old coach has signed a five-year contract with the school that will pay him $5 million in the 2024-25 season. His salary will increase by $250,000 annually every ensuing year.

Every season Pope guides Kentucky to a Sweet 16 appearance, his contract will be extended one season as long as there are no more than five years remaining on the contract at that time. Per Jon Hale, each extension will trigger another $500,000 raise.

“He would net $100,000 for an SEC championship, $50,000 for an SEC Tournament title, $25,000 for a team GPA of 3.0 or greater and $25,000 for a team APR score of at least 975,” Hale wrote of Pope’s incentives.

“Pope could also receive the largest of a set of bonuses tied to NCAA Tournament finish each season: national championship ($500,000), Final Four ($250,000), Elite Eight ($100,000) and Sweet 16 ($50,000). Pope’s maximum bonus each year is $700,000.”

At a $5 million salary, Pope would have been the seventh-highest-paid coach in college basketball last season, tied with UConn head coach Dan Hurley, according to USA Today. Despite the massive payday, Kentucky is still saving costs.

The school paid John Calipari $8.5 million this past season, the second-most in the nation. Further, Kentucky avoided being forced to pay Calipari’s $33 million buyout when he opted to accept an offer to become Arkansas‘ next head coach.

Along with reports of $4 million pledges from a pair of boosters, Kentucky has no shortage of capital to reward its next head coach. Pope couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity. During his introductory press conference in front of a sold-out crowd in Rupp Arena on Sunday, Mark Pope delivered his vision for the program.

“I learned about resilience here,” Pope said. “Here at Kentucky, resilience is a requirement. I learned here that passion wins championships. Sometimes when you’re on the court competing with all the passion you can, your insides end up all over the floor. I learned that from my guys. I learned about gratitude here at Kentucky. Entitlement leads to sorrow and depression and gratitude leads to joy. 

“What all these players know and all of our future players are going to learn really quick is that they are not doing those jerseys a favor by letting the jerseys clothe them. Our guys will know quickly that it will be one of the great honors of their life to put that jersey on.”