John Calipari reveals he tested positive for COVID-19 over the summer


Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari scolds his team during a timeout during the University of Kentucky vs. Louisiana State University men’s basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 82-69. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Barkley Truax

“I had a breakthrough this summer,” Kentucky men’s basketball head coach John Calipari said. “I got the virus this summer.”

Calipari contracted COVID-19 over the summer during the Peach Jam tournament while him and the rest of the men’s basketball staff were out recruiting. He was absent toward the end, which rose questions about whether or not Calipari had the virus, which wasn’t confirmed until Tuesday morning.

“My symptoms were so mild … I had some aches and pains and stuff, never got a fever never got the headache, nothing,” he said. “But, I was positive — [I] had to separate from my wife. She was downstairs. I was upstairs. She never got it, we tested her a bunch.”

Calipari said he didn’t want to reveal his positive test to discourage people from getting vaccinated. This news comes less than a day after his players hosted a kickball game at Woodland Park Monday afternoon, which Calipari said he didn’t know about until Tuesday morning.

“I did not know about it but to be honest with you, I asked the first question … where did they do it,” Calipari said. “They said outdoors, I said, ‘well that’s good.’”

As of Sunday, 58.7 percent of Lexington residents have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to — which means the basketball team was likely exposed to unvaccinated Fayette County residents during the event.

“The chances of something severe happening are really, really low. And I want us to have a full arena this year,” Calipari said. “But we’re gonna have to go with what the health officials say, so let’s hope we beat this down.”

Calipari pointed out that in 2020, no players, coaches or staff members inside the Kentucky program tested positive for the virus during the season — something that not many programs in the county can attest to.

“What I am doing as a coach — I’m listening to the health officials, whatever they say,” Calipari said. “That’s what we’re doing. I’m listening to the university, who’s listening to the health officials; what are they saying, that’s what we’ll do,” he said.