Calipari making the most out of his limited time at UK


Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats laughs while answering a question during the pre-game press conference for the game against the Hampton Pirates at KFC Yum! Center on Wednesday, March 18, 2015 in Louisville , Ky. Kentucky, the overall number 1 seed, opens its NCAA tournament Thursday at approx. 9:40 EST. Photo by Michael Reaves | Staff.

Being the head coach of the Kentucky men’s basketball team is not a job people typically hold onto forever, history shows.

In Kentucky’s history, only four coaches have coached the Wildcats longer than 10 years. If you take out Adolph Rupp’s 42-year stint as Kentucky’s coach, only Joe B. Hall and Tubby Smith have coached at Kentucky for at least double-digit years.

Kentucky’s current head coach John Calipari is entering his 10th year as the head coach of the Wildcats, making him a rarity in Kentucky coaches. Calipari said he did not know much longer he could keep balancing the many things that comes with being Kentucky’s head coach.

“I can remember asking coach [Joe B.] Hall how long of a run if this and he said about 10 years,” Calipari said. “The lifespan of a president, an athletic director, this level of coaching, it’s usually about 10 years and then after that stuff gets harder and harder.”

What makes coaching at Kentucky difficult for anybody, including Calipari, is all the extra activities Calipari does away from coaching his team. Recruiting, keeping in touch with former players in the NBA and showing up for promotional or charitable events are some of the things Calipari does besides coach his team.

“It’s not just coaching, it’s not just sitting in a chair, its not just watching game-tape, it’s not – you’re involved in a lot of stuff here,” Calipari said. “If you don’t want to take that on, this is probably the wrong job.”

As tough as the job is, and as much as it’s aged him, he admits, Calipari said he still finds joy in the daily tasks he does, which is what makes it hard for him to think about stepping away.

The biggest joy Calipari gets from this job is the impacts he makes on people’s lives. Every year, Calipari turns players whose families don’t have stable financial situations to millionaires because of their basketball talent.

Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo are some recent examples.

“That’ll keep me going and if I ever get to a point where I’m not feeling that I’m having that kind of impact, that the program is not having that kind of impact, then that’s when you start thinking,” Calipari said.

Another thing Calipari enjoys in being Kentucky’s head coach is the power that comes with the title. Calipari’s face is printed on billboards all over the state, and he is probably one of the more popular individuals in Kentucky.

“You come after me, this army comes after you,” Calipari said “So if you’re going to say something, you better be right, because if you’re not, that’s part of being here. I don’t have to defend myself.”

Even as enjoyable as coaching Kentucky and impacting people’s lives are, Calipari knows his remaining time at Kentucky is short. In his remaining time at Kentucky, his priority is not to win another national championship or win Coach of the Year; it’s about continuing to make impact like he has the past 10 years.

“It’s more about how is this affecting the people around you for me,” Calipari said “The longer I do this, the less it’s about what I’ve accomplished.”