Kentucky’s John Calipari is finalizing a five-year contract with Arkansas to take over as the Razorbacks’ head coach, sources told Pete Thamel of ESPN.

The two sides entered serious discussions about the job Sunday evening, sources told CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander.

Arkansas’ agreement with Calipari is expected to pay the longtime bench boss between $7.5-8 million per season, a source told The Field of 68’s Jeff Goodman.


Before agreeing, Calipari reportedly sought assurances from Arkansas that his transfers would be accepted, he’d be able to bring over his freshman class, and he’d have access to NIL guarantees, a source told Norlander.

The departing Wildcats coach reportedly had serious, prior interest in taking over at Ohio State but didn’t feel the time was right. The Buckeyes fired Chris Holtmann on Feb. 14 and tabbed assistant Jake Diebler as an interim solution. Parting ways with the Wildcats reportedly first became a possibility for Calipari in February.

Following the conclusion of their season in March, Ohio State removed the interim label and hired Diebler on a five-year deal.

Across 15 seasons at Kentucky, the 65-year-old Calipari boasts 533 wins – second-most in school history. He led the Wildcats to the 2012 national championship.

In June 2019, Calipari signed a “lifetime” deal with Kentucky reportedly worth $86 million and containing a buyout north of $30 million. However, the deal was structured so that the head coach wouldn’t be on the hook financially if he left on his own accord, according to Matt Jones of KY Sports Radio.

Calipari has helped Kentucky make four separate Final Four appearances and 12 NCAA Tournaments but has drawn blowback over the program’s lack of postseason success in recent seasons. The Wildcats last won the SEC Tournament in 2018 and have just one NCAA Tournament win in the last four years.

The Razorbacks began searching for a new head coach after Eric Musselman signed with USC to replace Andy Enfield. Musselman steered Arkansas to three consecutive national tournaments, including two Elite Eight trips, in five years. However, the side went 6-12 in SEC play this year (16-17 overall) and was eliminated by South Carolina in the second round of the conference tourney.