The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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Beyond the Bison: John Calipari leaves Kentucky

Evelyn+Pierce%2C+Graphics+Manager+%2F+The+Bucknellian
Evelyn Pierce, Graphics Manager / The Bucknellian

Last week, legendary University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari shocked the world of college basketball when he left the Wildcats program to take over at the University of Arkansas. Calipari is the winningest active head coach in college basketball with 855 career wins, with 410 of those wins at the helm in Lexington over a 15-year span.

Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015, Calipari will go down as one of the best coaches in the history of college basketball. Across his fifteen seasons at Kentucky, Calipari did nothing but excel.

In his first season with the Wildcats in 2009-10, the team posted a 35-3 record and made it to the Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament, with five of his players from this squad being selected in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft. In his next season, Calipari went to the Final Four before being knocked out by that year’s eventual national champion, UConn. Then in 2012, Calipari went further and won the 2012 national championship with Kentucky. 

Over the next four seasons, Kentucky made four straight NCAA Tournament appearances while making the Sweet 16 three times and the Elite 8 twice. Calipari was dominating the world of college basketball.

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But after COVID shut down the sport, he was never quite the same. Kentucky did not reach the NCAA Tournament in 2021 and Calipari had his first losing season in Lexington. After that, the Wildcats have suffered brutal losses in the tournaments the team has qualified for. 

Over his last four seasons, Calipari tallied an 80-45 record. In 2022, as a 2-seed, Kentucky was knocked out in the first round by 15-seed St. Peter’s, an astronomical upset. In 2023, Kentucky made it to the tournament as a 6-seed but would lose to 3-seed Kansas State in the Round of 32. Then in 2024, Kentucky was again sent home in dramatic fashion as the 3-seed Wildcats lost to 14-seed Oakland in the first round. This would be Calipari’s last game as the Wildcats’ coach.

Over his last four seasons, there was speculation if Coach Cal would leave for another job, and we finally saw it here. What was not expected though was that he would take an opening at an in-conference rival that is Arkansas.

With most current Arkansas players hitting the transfer portal after the hire of Calipari, he sits with only one player on the roster.

It’s a fresh start for Calipari in Fayetteville and we’ll see if he can rebound his legendary career there.

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Hugh Straine
Hugh Straine, Sports Co-Editor

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