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What does Calipari’s new lifetime contract really mean?

(Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)

(Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)

John Calipari and the University of Kentucky agreed on a new lifetime deal that will make Calipari the head coach of the Wildcats for as long as he wants to be the head coach of the Wildcats. Lifetime sounds like a very long time, so what does the deal really mean?

It means John Calipari isn’t leaving Kentucky for another job in college basketball. The NBA? Still very unlikely, but definitely not another college gig. Barring some crazy scenario in the Association, he is in Lexington until he hangs up his Ferragamos for the last time.

It means he can look a recruit in the eyes and say he isn’t going anywhere. Around this time every year, Calipari’s name pops up in coaching searches — occasionally legitimate, most times not. Opposing coaches often use the rumors as ammo to recruit against him. “You sure you want to go to Kentucky when Cal might be leaving this offseason?” It happens all the time. Now he can show recruits his lifetime deal.

It means UK got tired of the rumors, too.

It means the tiny portion of Big Blue Nation that wants Calipari gone can shut the hell up. Personally, I think those people should be deported.

It means Calipari feels appreciated by the university and the fan base (outside of the idiots). I will say, though, before the two sides came to terms with the lifetime deal, the negativity was taking its toll on Cal. He may tell us he doesn’t hear his critics, but he does. UK wanted to reassure him that he is the only man for the job.

It doesn’t mean a whole lot, contractually. Outside of the commitment to pay Calipari an undisclosed amount as an ambassador of the program beyond his coaching days, the “lifetime” aspect of the deal isn’t as wild as many are making it out to be. Like a few others in the profession (Coach K, Williams, maybe Self), Calipari already had the job as long as he wanted it. His deal had him in place through 2024, and had he gotten that far and wanted a few more years, it would have been on the table. It’s not like UK could get stuck with him for 20-30 years; he only has so many more years left in the tank and a contract would’ve been in place for however long he wanted to go. It has been a lifetime deal without the lifetime tag for four or five years now. Calling it a lifetime deal is simply saying he is here until he doesn’t want to be here.

It means Dunkin’ Donuts in Lexington better keep the coffee with one cream and one Splenda coming.

It means the head coach of Kentucky basketball will continue to do more than coach basketball. Whatever side of the coaching argument you are on, you can’t argue against what Calipari has done for the community. He gives back to families, local charitable organizations, federal workers, people affected by disasters, and he even let Louisville win one year. That’s what kind of a guy he is, and the Bluegrass is lucky to have his generosity.

It means you can forget about going to the Maui Invitational anytime soon.

It means we have to keep fake laughing at that “I was wrong once… in 1978” joke. He loves that one.

It means the Pat Fordes and Dana O’Neils and Dan Wolkens of the world will continue to trash him. But why should we care about what they have to say in the first place? Like Taylor Swift taught us in 1989, “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate; baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake; I shake it off, I shake it off.” Calipari will just keep cruising; can’t stop, won’t stop grooving.

It means it will keep being different here. Not for everyone, too.

It means UK will be a Players First program for the foreseeable future. It also means the NBA Draft will continue to be a holiday in Kentucky.

It means Kentucky is going to be in the hunt for the title every single year.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

35 Comments for What does Calipari’s new lifetime contract really mean?

  1. addyjaxlarkin
    4:13 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

    No Joke… this literally might be the best piece you’ve ever put on this website.
    Love it ?

    • Nugget01
      5:19 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

      Absolutely love it. And that last sentence everything.

  2. eddiesuttonsliver
    4:30 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

    This is like a bat signal for trolls. Brace yourselves.

  3. TB112162
    4:32 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

    Drew the program was at a pretty low in March 2009.Then came along Cal and he put us back in the high life again restored us to the top and made us significant again

  4. StillBP
    4:36 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

    After seeing some of Clay Travis’ salty tweets about the deal, I’m convinced he might be BoB Mashburnfan (if he isn’t Jerry Tipton).

  5. BullittCoCat
    4:36 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

    Love it. Love Cal. The people complaining about Cal are morons, and the fact that he actually hears it is infuriating.

  6. StillBP
    4:36 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

    *or Bob or Mashburnfan, oops

    • StillBP
      4:37 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

      Gah, I give up. Today isn’t my day to comment lol

  7. MrPioneer
    5:19 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

    Just grabbed my popcorn. Waiting for the idiots to come out of hiding.

  8. AirForceOne
    5:20 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

    An outstanding piece of literary magic. You may only be able to jump 6 inches off the ground, but that pen on paper really works out for you!! Well done Drew

  9. Racerr11
    5:31 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

    Cal best coach in basketball period

  10. jim tom
    5:40 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink


  11. Kyceltsfan
    5:56 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

    I like Cal as our coach but I think calling people that are critical of him from time to time a moron. If it is constant and unfair I can see the point being made in this article but those are a vocal few.

  12. KatFan48
    5:58 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

    Very very good piece. Happy for Cal. Happy for UK. Very Happy for BBN GO CAL GO CATS

  13. lexcatfan2367
    6:11 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

    Love Kentucky. Love Cal and Family. Go Cats.

  14. wildcat74
    6:19 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

    Hopefully they’ll hire him a lifetime assistant that can coach in game, come up with a some adjustments, draw up some plays, call an occasional timeout when the opponent goes on a 10-0 run, etc etc during the NCAA tournament.

    • abobicesaevior
      6:30 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

      UK hasn’t gone on 10-0 runs in the tournament against great teams with legendary coaches on their bench? Coulda fooled me.

    • catsarerunnin
      6:50 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

      Hopefully you will change your name to Dbag74. You aren’t worthy to use wildcat.

    • Luether
      6:57 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

      Ha! Good post!

    • wildcat74
      9:29 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

      Catsarunnin with another well thought out and brilliantly articulated argument. Name calling on an anonymous website must be the highlight of your day.

  15. michaelb
    6:20 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

    Look the cal lifetime contract thing more or less is just a grand appreciation gesture – I laughed out loud when I seen in in the news . It just basically says yea we got him and he’s unattainable to the other 350 d1 teams . Both uk and cal can just grin about it to the rest of the world . Only an insane amount /& or situation would get cal to move

  16. binarysolo
    6:23 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

    Question about the “ambassador” aspect of his contract. So when Cal retires he is still part of the program right? Won’t that deter the incoming new coach, to be working under Cal’s shadow?

    • KYcats11
      6:32 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

      Doubt it. Probably something similar to Joe B Hall now

  17. kybirdieman
    6:36 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

    NBA draft a Kentucky holiday? Really

    • wyatts1
      6:57 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

      Yeah that comment was kinda stupid in itself. It’s great for the kids that has the work ethic and the skill to move along to the NBA. To call it a Kentucky holiday is a joke really and kinda bothers me just a little bit cause it’s obvious our school is player first but a ff or title is the holiday that 99% of us long for. It’s coming I’m sure cause we’re just to good in every aspect of the basketball game.

    • JT919
      7:32 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

      Imagine taking everything you read 100% literally. That’d be stupid right?

    • Luether
      6:59 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

      Hanging championship banners is the only Ky “holiday” I look forward to…

  18. KYCat4EVER
    7:09 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

    It really means only TWO THINGS

    1). We still have a complete, unqualified, moron for our Athletic Director! You know, Mitch Barnhart … the same overpaid clueless member of Kentucky’s staff who gave us Billy Gillespie…

    2. Our KENTUCKY WILDCATS will WIN ANOTHER National Championship in Basketball until Calipari retires! PERIOD!


    • CPACAT
      9:01 am April 3, 2019 Permalink

      If you are going to troll; at least get it right…pretty sure you meant *NOT WIN

  19. recliner coach
    8:19 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

    Awesome he is staying, wouldn’t want anyone else. But not substituting when tourney games get stressful in the 2nd half, just wish he would stick with what we did all season. If someone is having a bad game in the elite 8 they need to give someone else a chance, we have many McDonalds all Americans to choose from. And having some plays that work when we need a basket. Went to the Purdue/TN game and Purdue has several plays that they were scoring not matter what defense was being played. Having a few of those in the back pocket would be nice

  20. Kentucky Wins
    9:21 pm April 2, 2019 Permalink

    Deal with it.

  21. CaliparisCats
    6:37 am April 3, 2019 Permalink

    So now Franklin wants to deport Veterans that fought for the country because they disagree about basketball? Yet they bash Trump. Sounds about right for KSR.

    • Drew Franklin
      9:05 am April 3, 2019 Permalink

      Yes, that is exactly what I said. Word for word.

    • Cincy Cayt
      10:51 am April 3, 2019 Permalink

      Lol it’s always about entitled little TRUMP

    • MrPioneer
      12:02 pm April 3, 2019 Permalink

      Congrats, calipariscats. You now own the trophy for the biggest reach of all time.