Sources: Kentucky’s John Calipari to become next Arkansas coach

On the eve of the biggest men’s college basketball national championship game in years, John Calipari has managed to take the spotlight.

The Hall of Famer is leaving Kentucky after 15 seasons to take the head coaching job at Arkansas, sources told FOX Sports. 

The 65-year-old Calipari, who arrived at Kentucky back in 2009 and led the Wildcats to a national championship in 2012, is making one of the most shocking coaching moves in the sport’s history, staying in the SEC and taking over in Fayetteville. 

After Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart gave Calipari a vote of confidence and decided to bring him back following another disappointing finish to a season in Lexington, with the Wildcats not making the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in four consecutive years, Calipari instead will take over for Eric Musselman, who left the Razorbacks on his own accord for USC this past week after a 16-17 campaign.

What got this deal done? Calipari’s close relationship with John Tyson of the Tyson Family, who are among the top athletic donors to the University of Arkansas. According to sources, Calipari recently played golf with Tyson when rumors picked up about Musselman potentially leaving for the West Coast and Kentucky’s fan base growing sour on Calipari.

Calipari’s decision to leave throws out a buyout of over $33 million had Kentucky fired him. 

Calipari departs Kentucky with a 410-122 record in Lexington, but with just one win in the past four NCAA Tournaments, a span which includes first-round upsets to No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s in 2022 and to No. 14 seed Oakland last month. 

Calipari built one of the biggest NBA talent factories in college basketball throughout his time at Kentucky, developing stars such as Anthony Davis, John Wall, Karl-Anthony Towns and De’Aaron Fox, among many others.

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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