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Kentucky has a $33 million John Calipari dilemma after March Madness failure

As Kentucky tries to come to terms with its shocking loss to Oakland in the NCAA Tournament, the program could face some serious questions.

Is it time to part ways with legendary head coach John Calipari?

There are many layers to the discussion, but the program’s recent tournament shortcomings are starting to raise some concerns after its phenomenal success prior to that.


John Calipari yelled instructions after Kentucky lost 80-76 to Oakland in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Nicholas T. Lovade/CSM/Shutterstock

Kentucky had a 26-1 record in the Round of 64 from 1988 to 2019.

However, since then, they have lost to the 15th and 14th seeds, resulting in one win and two losses.

Wildcats fans have been clamoring for Calipari to step down as head coach, and Thursday’s 80-76 loss to Oakland seems to have solidified that opinion.

Even Calipari seemed to feel the weight of the loss when he spoke to TNT’s Evan Washburn.

“I told them afterward, this hurts,” Calipari said. “The reason is because sometimes you lose games and you know what your team is like. But I really felt like this team was made for this moment. We’re young and But we knew it could get us. But we had chances. We threw the ball away, we took bad shots. A lot of things happened. We allowed a corner 3 on the last play.

“But you have to give credit to Oakland. They hit an unbelievable shot at the buzzer. They deserved to win the game. I don’t want to say they didn’t, but they didn’t. Ta.”

However, the idea of ​​severing ties with Calipari is not completely set in stone, and if they tried to buy out the remainder of his contract now, he would be owed $33 million. On3’s Pete Nakos reports..

That means Kentucky will have to think long and hard about whether it’s worth ending the relationship, especially if the acquisition cost drops to $27 million after next season.


Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari after losing to the Oakland Golden Grizzlies midway through the second half in the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament at PPG Paints Arena on March 21, 2024. left the court.
Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari after losing to the Oakland Golden Grizzlies midway through the second half in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at PPG Paints Arena on March 21, 2024. left the court. Getty Images

The question will also be who will replace Calipari if he chooses to move forward.

There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer to that at this point, but perhaps it will factor into Calipari’s future decisions with this program.

After three straight seasons of early tournament losses and a year in which Kentucky missed the Big Dance, Lexington fans are more anxious than ever, and Calipari’s future is a question mark. Got it.

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