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Why John Calipari has not taken a voluntary coronavirus pay cut

John Calipari is the highest-paid coach in college basketball, yet he has not volunteered to take a pay cut as UK has been forced to furlough employees and make budget cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, thanks to an article from ESPN, we have a better understanding as to why.

This morning, ESPN released a survey detailing the coaches in college football and basketball that have and have not taken pay cuts during the pandemic. With an $8.2 million salary in 2019-20, Calipari is atop the list of basketball coaches that have not, but none of that money comes from the university. UK Athletics is one of the few athletic departments in the country that is self-sufficient, operating without state or university funds or student fees, even contributing a large portion of its revenue back to the school. UK Basketball spokesman Eric Lindsey said as much to ESPN.

At Kentucky, Calipari’s $8.2 million salary also has not been cut. In April, the school president announced that he expected layoffs, furloughs and 10% budget cuts across campus to address a $70 million shortfall. During a board of trustees meeting in June, athletic director Mitch Barnhart laid out a 17% reduction to his department for the 2020-21 school year and described it as a “necessary sacrifice.” Barnhart suggested that rather than cut salaries, money could be saved in the coming year by, among other things, eliminating charter flights for some teams — a change that could lead to some athletes missing additional class time if they return to campus this fall.

Calipari and Barnhart declined interview requests. Spokesman Eric Lindsey pointed to philanthropic work and donations Calipari has made during the pandemic. Lindsey added that Calipari “only receives $400,000 of his salary from the athletic department,” with the majority coming from the school’s marketing partner, JMI. Lindsey also suggested that Calipari’s salary shouldn’t be considered in the context of the university’s budget woes because “the athletic department operates on an independent budget and does not take any funds from the university.”

Speaking of that philanthropic work, earlier this week, Calipari announced that his “Coffee with Cal” initiative has raised over $1.5 million for COVID-19 relief.

Here’s the chart from ESPN showing which coaches have taken voluntary pay cuts. If you’re looking to point fingers, 8.9% of UNC Athletics’ revenue comes from the university, but Roy Williams has not taken a pay cut.

For more, including the figures on college football coaches, head on over to ESPN.

[ESPN]

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

47 Comments for Why John Calipari has not taken a voluntary coronavirus pay cut



  1. wildcats8
    11:14 am July 17, 2020 Permalink

    Really good article thank you for the break down



  2. ukyelecteng
    11:29 am July 17, 2020 Permalink

    He probably should have voluntarily taken one, even a small one would have improved optics and would have been largely symbolic at his pay rate. But who am I to say.



  3. michaelb
    11:30 am July 17, 2020 Permalink

    #Goodfellas



  4. michaelb
    11:31 am July 17, 2020 Permalink

    Wow I’m even more impressed , Coach Cals paychecks are insulated from word threats 😀



  5. KatsKlaws
    11:43 am July 17, 2020 Permalink

    So, Cal could have taken a 10 percent pay cut of $800,000 then made 1.5 mil on Coffee with Cal and not publicized that figure. He would be up $700k and been seen as a team player and avoided terrible publicity …but hey what do I know.



    • BlueSteel
      1:11 pm July 17, 2020 Permalink

      KK: Because he’s not like that!! He knows what he does and how much he gives back to the University, the community and the world. His motivation doesn’t come from silliness as you are suggesting. He doesn’t need “approval” from you or others when he already knows he’s doing the right things.



  6. WKY Cat
    11:49 am July 17, 2020 Permalink

    Total BS. If he would take a pay cut it
    1. Obviously helps the athletic department get through this tough financial time
    2. IF we play basketball and football it would leave more money for the athletic department to donate to the university like they do every year



    • madskilz
      12:55 pm July 17, 2020 Permalink

      Did you volunteer a pay cut?



    • WKY Cat
      2:00 pm July 17, 2020 Permalink

      Nope nor did you. BUT we don’t make millions and have that level of discretionary income. Thanks for the stupid comment.



    • bbn606
      3:30 pm July 19, 2020 Permalink

      No, I just lost my business. I don’t suppose that was mandatory.



    • ClutchCargo
      4:18 pm July 17, 2020 Permalink

      Just because you don’t like being asked a simple question doesn’t make it a stupid question. The athletics dept is not hurting for money. Every little bit of charity helps, so why not just go ahead and take your voluntary pay cut and help your employer get through this tough financial time?



    • WKY Cat
      12:54 pm July 18, 2020 Permalink

      Clutch, stupid questions are stupid questions no matter how simple. We both know if Cal took a pay cut that gives the AD money to give back to the university to help with furloughed employees or other expenses. Stop protecting Cal. The perception on this doesn’t make Cal look good irrelevant who pays him.



    • desertCard
      5:24 am July 18, 2020 Permalink

      ClutchCargo it is a stupid question. For someone who makes $100,000 (just a figure for the comment) compared to someone who makes $8.2 million plus is stupid. All coaches give back to the community. At the very least it’s bad optics for UK and Cal. but as Cal has said many times it’s about the name on the back of the jersey not the front so it’s par for the course.



    • runningunnin.454
      10:07 am July 18, 2020 Permalink

      Desertcard, perhaps you should research and avoid looking the fool. “The name on the back of the jersey”, seriously? I would imagine that Cal is one of the most selfless, others-oriented coaches in the country. Ever hear of the Calipari Foundation? His efforts behind the scenes would probably make your head spin.
      https://www.wlky.com/article/calipari-foundation-helping-families-in-need-during-covid-19-pandemic/



    • ClutchCargo
      3:48 pm July 18, 2020 Permalink

      Any furloughed employees are being furloughed because of lack of students on campus due to the coronavirus, not because the basketball coach is being paid. Blaming Cal for not voluntarily taking a pay cut for worthless “optics” or “perception” is the stupid part in this. Again, the AD is not hurting for money and will still donate to the university as always. I’m quite sure Cal’s $400,000 UK salary is well within what was budgeted.



    • PensacolaCat
      9:52 am July 19, 2020 Permalink

      I don’t care if he gives his salary back or not. It’s HIS money to do with as he pleases and others shouldn’t be deciding for him what is moral or not.



    • WKY Cat
      1:39 pm July 19, 2020 Permalink

      Clutch, you obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. My son attends UK. They will be in class in August. A lot of the furloughed employees will not be back even when students are back. So yes you’re wrong about that. When KSR chooses to write an article basically protecting Cal or at minimum giving an excuse why he’s not taking a voluntary pay cut that is done 100% for public perception. So there’s that too. 0-2.



  7. T-Town Cat
    11:56 am July 17, 2020 Permalink

    If Roy makes “only” $4.1MM, he needs a new agent. Three National Championships and one runner-up at UNC makes him underpaid in my opinion. Say what you want about fake classes, but he still had to coach those guys to the NC game.



    • UKFanSC
      1:04 pm July 17, 2020 Permalink

      Much as I hate to, I agree with you.



  8. Jambluehue99
    12:05 pm July 17, 2020 Permalink

    He has a contract to be paid a certain amount of money for his services. He doesn’t owe anyone a pay cut. People are always quick to say what someone else should do with their money. How many people have donated to the university to help them offset losses? Very few if any I’m sure. Yet they are quick to say someone else should do so.



    • madskilz
      12:56 pm July 17, 2020 Permalink

      Exactly



    • TonyMontana
      2:49 pm July 17, 2020 Permalink

      It’s all about optics & perception. Obviously he isn’t obligated to take a pay cut or donate anything to anyone, but he is a public person and this is affecting him negatively. Look at all of the other coaches who have donated. Why hasnt he? How many articles will there be saying he is cheap and not helping the university and their employees. The pay cut would have already payed for itself in marketing & exposure. In fact, he has probably lost money by not taking a pay cut.



    • Jambluehue99
      3:11 pm July 17, 2020 Permalink

      Once this moment has passed no one will care that he did or didn’t take a pay cut. As a society we make too many choices in the heat of the moment to make it seem like we are on the “right side”. Hence we end up with PC and “woke” ideology destroying our society. I hope he doesn’t take a cut and gets every penny he is due on his contract. Both sides agreed to it. It’s his money now.



    • desertCard
      5:34 am July 18, 2020 Permalink

      Jambluehue99 but lol he jumped on the BLM issue that will cost him nothing. A PR stunt to show how woke he is. I think those in BBN and especially those other low paid assistants would have a more favorable attitude towards him by taking a cut of a pittance of his salary.



    • desertCard
      5:41 am July 18, 2020 Permalink

      Jambluehue99 apparently many coaches have. Just not Cal. He has no “legal” obligation correct. But the optics are bad outside and the optics within the univ athletic dept are really bad. An assistant making 2% of Cal’s money does but not someone making over $8 million? lol.



    • ClutchCargo
      3:40 pm July 18, 2020 Permalink

      desertCard, a UofLOL fan going on and on about “optics.” Okay, then.



    • desertCard
      6:46 am July 19, 2020 Permalink

      ClutchCargo the optics in Louavull are just fine now. They took care of the problem. Chris Mack is class.



  9. madskilz
    12:53 pm July 17, 2020 Permalink

    I don’t blame him why should he? That’s called capitalism.



    • WKY Cat
      2:04 pm July 17, 2020 Permalink

      I agree. But don’t write an article that insinuates because he’s paid by the independent athletic department and not the university that it makes a difference. It does not.



    • Bluenblood
      2:10 pm July 17, 2020 Permalink

      I dont agree!! This job capitalizes on a not for profit university and 18 year old student athletes. Thats not capitalism by any stretch. I think Cal missed a PR opportunity but he dont care



    • desertCard
      5:28 am July 18, 2020 Permalink

      Tell that to the common people losing jobs every day. Tell that to the coaches voluntarily giving up salary. Tell that to the student athletes who no longer have a team as those sports were cut in budget decisions. I guess it’s all good and fun till it affects you right?



  10. plumloopy
    2:56 pm July 17, 2020 Permalink

    Then return at least that $400k that DOES come from the athletic department. Also, he is paid to do a certain job, but he didn’t have to due a big portion of that job (the NCAA tourny, albeit through no fault of his own).

    As for “eliminating charter flights for some teams — a change that could lead to some athletes missing additional class time…” it’s hard to read that and not think about how many of those passengers even stay for four years these days. Do it. A tiny sacrifice.



  11. Biglaw Dawgin'
    2:58 pm July 17, 2020 Permalink

    Cal is still working, so why take a pay cut? Especially if 0% comes from tuition. ESPN is running out of things to write about, I’m about done with that site.



    • desertCard
      5:30 am July 18, 2020 Permalink

      Because assistant football, basketball, etc etc are eating their salaries and make about 6% of Cal’s salary.

      Done with ESPN? Sure you are.



  12. T-Town Cat
    5:44 pm July 17, 2020 Permalink

    Any money UK and JMI pay Cal is considered an investment. They wouldn’t pay him $8.2MM if they didn’t think having him as Coach wouldn’t result in a much larger payback. There are probably several people at UK that wouldn’t have jobs if Cal wasn’t the coach.



  13. CrystalBall
    10:52 pm July 17, 2020 Permalink

    I have a hard time believing Coach K makes 7.3m. Probably more like 9m.



    • bkeith75
      11:05 pm July 17, 2020 Permalink

      My understanding was Coach K’s $7.3M is after his voluntary pay cut. Not sure though.



  14. crazycatfan65
    11:14 pm July 17, 2020 Permalink

    Pay cut? What part of the University only pays $400,000 of Cal’s salary as the remainder comes from JMI didn’t some understand? So some of you haters thinks he should take a pay cut on his $400,000? Then shouldn’t the athletic department be able to keep all profits and not give any of the money to the university?



  15. crazycatfan65
    11:14 pm July 17, 2020 Permalink

    Pay cut? What part of the University only pays $400,000 of Cal’s salary as the remainder comes from JMI didn’t some understand? So some of you haters thinks he should take a pay cut on his $400,000? Then shouldn’t the athletic department be able to keep all profits and not give any of the money to the university?



  16. J. Did
    9:05 am July 18, 2020 Permalink

    CAL attends mass daily. I’m quite certain he contributes – quietly. He’s a good human. Glad to have him as coach and mentor at KENTUCKY.



    • desertCard
      6:49 am July 19, 2020 Permalink

      ISIS fighters pray to Allah 5 times a day. WTF does that have to do with anything.



  17. Righteous1
    12:13 pm July 18, 2020 Permalink

    Why should he take a pay cut? The UK administration allowed him to leverage the UCLA job for more money at UK! I would not take a pay cut! This one is on the UK Administration!



  18. evovza
    2:49 pm July 18, 2020 Permalink

    http://www.kkiss.club – Social network for addultss that brings people togetherr who want to have a casual ssexx



    • runningunnin.454
      3:44 pm July 18, 2020 Permalink

      LOL, don’t know what that has to do with anything; but, there’s no wayy I’m going to clickk on that linkk.



  19. Looother
    10:40 pm July 18, 2020 Permalink

    My sources say that Cal should take a significant pay cut and do it now…