Uh Uh:: Kentucky Wildcats Head Coach Mark Pope Terminates Star Player’s Contract Due To…

Head coach Mark Pope of the Kentucky Wildcats terminates the contract of a star player.

Mark Pope of BYU is supposedly close to accepting one of the most prominent positions in all of collegiate athletics.

Report: BYU's Mark Pope, Kentucky Finalizing 5-Year HC Contract After  Calipari's Exit | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors | Bleacher  Report

Pope is nearing a five-year contract to become Kentucky’s next men’s basketball coach, according to ESPN’s Pete Thamel and Jeff Borzello.

As previously reported by CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander, the Wildcats were “set to hire” Pope.

John Calipari unexpectedly left to become the head coach of Arkansas in early April, leaving the Kentucky position vacant. It was the most significant domino in a series of events that included Eric Musselman leaving Arkansas for USC, Andy Enfield leaving USC for SMU, and Calipari taking over the Razorbacks.

According to a report published on April 7 by Thamel and Borzello, Calipari’s base pay at Arkansas is projected to be just less than the $8.5 million he earned at Kentucky, with incentives allowing him to surpass that amount.

Although Arkansas’s men’s basketball program has not had the same degree of success as Kentucky’s, relations between Calipari and the team had become a little stale.

Kentucky lost to 14th-seeded Oakland in the first round of the 2024 Big Dance and 15th-seeded Saint Peter’s in the first round of the 2022 NCAA tournament. Kentucky hasn’t advanced to the Sweet 16 since the 2018–19 season.

Report: BYU's Mark Pope, Kentucky Finalizing 5-Year HC Contract After  Calipari's Exit | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors | Bleacher  Report

In addition, the Wildcats have not won the conference tournament or an SEC regular-season championship since 2019–20.

For most programs, that might not be a particularly long distance, but Kentucky is an exception. During his first six seasons, Calipari reached four Final Fours and won a national championship, playing as if this were one of the sport’s gold standards.

In addition, he was the SEC tournament champion in six of his first nine years and the regular-season champion in five of his first eight.

Pope wants to get back to that level, and Kentucky supporters won’t settle for anything less.

Luckily for the Wildcats, he is more knowledgeable than most about what it takes to be successful in this program. He was a senior center on the national championship-winning Wildcats squad of 1995–96.

In his five seasons as BYU’s head coach, he has had considerable success as well, going 110-52. Despite their struggles in the Big Dance, the Cougars qualified for two NCAA tournaments during his tenure and would have qualified for a third had the 2020 tournament not been canceled due to COVID-19.

They lost to 11th-seeded UCLA in the first round of the 2021 tournament and to 11th-seeded Duquesne in the first round of the most recent tournament.

It won’t do at all Kentucky, but he will have ample resources at his disposal and the capacity to draw the top talents in the country to his alma institution. That ought to assist him in maintaining the program in the forefront of the sport even in the event of a shocking coaching change.

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