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By LARRY VAUGHT
It’s admirable for Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart to want to extend John Calipari’s contract at Kentukcky “to ensure that he has a long tenure” at UK as Barnhart wrote on Twitter last week.
There’s little doubt Barnhart, who had his contract extended by outgoing president Lee Todd, will work out a contract extension with Calipari.
But should he and what does it really matter.
Calipari was give an eight-year, $31.65 million deal when he left Memphis to take over at UK in 2009 and four straight 30-win seasons. He’s won 65 games in two years at UK and made the Elite Eight and Final Four. He had five first-round draft picks last year, including Patrick Patterson, and will have two more this year if you count Enes Kanter as a Wildcat. And he has the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class again and could have five potential first-round picks in 2012.
However, no matter how much more money UK guarantees Calipari or how many years he has on contract, if he wants to leave for the NBA, he’ll leave. Either Calipari or a NBA team will buy out the contract and he’ll walk away.
It works the other way if his contract is not extended. He’s still making plenty of money and with his track record, there’s no way Kentucky would let him walk away. He can coach at UK for as long as he wants.
So while it might sound good for Calipari’s long-term security at UK if the contract is extended, it really means nothing. If Calipari wants to be at Kentucky, he’ll be here. If he wants to leave, he’ll leave.
Myself, I still don’t see him leaving, especially since would want a high-level NBA job this time where he could win immediately and the few teams that good with openings likely would never have the nerve to turn their team over to a college coach like Calipari. And the bad teams who might be willing to give Calipari a second chance likely would not appeal to the coach nearly enough to make him leave the Bluegrass.