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John Calipari explains decision to leave for Arkansas in message to Big Blue Nation

Grant Grubbsby:Grant Grubbs04/09/24


On Tuesday, Kentucky head coach John Calipari posted a message following reports of him accepting an offer to be the next head coach at Arkansas. He deleted the original post before shortly re-uploading the video minutes later.

“Since our season ended, Ellen and I have spent a lot of time thinking about our time here at Kentucky,” Calipari said. “What it means to us, the friends we’ve made on that court, regional championships, conference championships, Final Fours, the national title in 2012 — it’s been a beautiful time for us.

“This is a dream job. It was my dream job. Anybody in our profession looks at the University of Kentucky and basketball and says, “That is the bluest of blue.” The last few weeks we’ve come to realize that this program probably needs to hear another voice, that the university as a whole has to have another voice giving guidance about this program.

“The fans need to hear another voice. We’ve loved it here, but we think it’s time for us to step away and step away completely from the program.”

Calipari is reportedly signing a five-year contract with Arkansas, according to ESPN’s Pete Thamel. The 65-year-old head coach spent 15 seasons at Kentucky, where he tallied a 410-122 record, three Final Four appearances in 2011, 2014 and 2015 and a national title in 2012.

For the full transcript of the rest of Calipari’s message, read below:

“There have been opportunities that have been presented to us and we’re discussing them as a family,” Calipari said. “I love coaching. I love coaching young people. I love this year’s team. I loved everyday walking in. They invigorated me. I love the chase for championships. I love bringing the kids together.

“It’s what I do. It’s who I am. Let me start though, I’ve got to thank the players in the families that I’ve had the privilege of coaching because they’ve entrusted me with their son and their son’s career. What they’ve done in the classroom. Over 30 of the guys who have graduated, six in three years, what they’ve done in this community to give back to the state of Kentucky. They gave all of us everything they had on the basketball court and off the basketball court and I am indebted forever until the wheels fall off.

“Lastly, thanking staff, all the people that worked to help us have the success we’ve had. All the people in the university as a whole and all the things that they did. The friends, we’ve made lifelong friends that will be close with the rest of our lives.

“The fans, the BBN, all that you’ve done to build this program. The people that traveled with us, I want to thank you. Hopefully it was an experience with your kids that you can look at and say, ‘Man, this is something that will remember the rest of our lives together.’ Those memories and what we were able to do together is what this is all about. Again, it’s been a dream, what we’ve been able to do, but 15 years… Time for another voice, and you know I’m always going to be a fan.”