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Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart confirms John Calipari’s return for 2024-25 season

Samuel Colmar
Kentucky head coach John Calipari points to a player on the Kentucky bench during the No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 7 Texas A&M men’s basketball game in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals on Friday, March 15, 2024, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Kentucky lost 97-87. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff

Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart confirmed on social media on Tuesday that men’s basketball coach John Calipari will remain with the team for the 2024-25 season.

“As we normally do at the end of every season, Coach Calipari and I have had conversations about the direction of our men’s basketball program,” Barnhart wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “I can confirm that he will return for his 16th season as our head coach.”

The statement came not long after the pair finally met following Kentucky’s disappointing 80-76 loss in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at the hands of the Oakland Golden Grizzlies.

Kentucky forward Ugonna Onyenso puts his head in his hands after the No. 3 Kentucky vs. No. 14 Oakland mens basketball game in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, March 21, 2024, at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Kentucky lost 80-76. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff (Samuel Colmar)

The loss marked the second time in three years that the Cats have been upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and continued a streak dating back to 2019 of Kentucky being unable to escape the first weekend of the “Big Dance.” It also continued the team’s Final Four drought, which dates back to 2015.

Calipari continued his usual end-of-the-year radio show on Monday and seemed to indicate he would be back with the program while claiming to understand the gravity of the situation.

Many fans of the program had called for the Hall of Famer’s firing after the upset, with social media having been set on fire after the loss to Oakland.

Regardless, “Cal” will remain the man in charge in Lexington going forward as fans are left to await decisions on returning and departing players, as well as whether or not the Cats will make any moves in the transfer portal. No official comment has been made regarding any assistant coaching changes as well.

Kentucky is definitively losing veterans Tre Mitchell and Antonio Reeves, as well as Brennan Canada, due to eligibility but, while many are heavily speculated to leave for either the NBA Draft or the transfer portal, no other players have made public decisions as of yet.

Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart watches the Kentucky vs. Eastern Kentucky football game on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 28-17. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Staff (Abbey Cutrer)

Calipari is bringing in a class of six freshmen including five star Jayden Quaintance and four stars Boogie Fland, Somto Cyril, Travis Perry, Karter Knox — brother of Kentucky legend Kevin Knox — and Billy Richmond.

Reports have indicated that the Cats have also reached out to a few players in the transfer portal including Rutgers’ Clifford Omoruyi and UTSA’s Jordan Ivy-Curry, but nothing is known as to the severity of these offers or who else may be targeted.

The Kentucky Kernel will continue to provide updates as players make decisions regarding their futures and new information becomes available.

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About the Contributors
Cole Parke, Sports Editor
Abbey Cutrer, Editor-in-Chief
Samuel Colmar, Assistant Photo Editor

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