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.