John Calipari to Get Huge NIL Budget with Arkansas Job

Former Kentucky coach hasn't agreed to a deal with the Razorbacks just yet, but news of his potential NIL budget is already leaking out
John Calipari is expected to return as Kentucky's coach.
John Calipari is expected to return as Kentucky's coach. / Denny Simmons / The Tennessean / USA

Former Kentucky coach John Calipari appears headed to Arkansas to take over as the program’s new men’s basketball coach. While Arkansas hadn’t officially announced the hiring by early Monday afternoon, all signs appear to point toward him leaving Lexington.

It’s an incredibly interesting move, as Calipari would leave one of the sports’ true blue blood programs and head to Arkansas, which won a national championship under Nolan Richardson in 1994 and last went to the Final Four in 1995.

So what would get Calipari to leave a job like Kentucky for Arkansas? Well, money, of course.

Calipari has a lifetime deal with Kentucky worth $8.5 million. Per ESPN, Calipari may be line to take a slight pay cut with the Hogs, with a reported salary of more than $8 million. There are also incentives in the contract that could carry it to a higher figure.

But it’s the NIL budget that may be just as enticing. Field of 68 reported after news broke of the negotiations that Calipari should have access to a large Name, Image and Likeness budget for basketball, potentially mor than $5 million to start.  

In this era, that could be one of the biggest NIL budgets in the game and would allow Calipari to continue to recruit and lure transfers like the ones he’s lured to Kentucky.

Calipari has been under fire for a few seasons now, as the program has had a pair of early exits from the NCAA Tournament, including this season against Oakland in the first round. Kentucky announced after the loss that Calipari intended to return as head coach, tamping down speculation about his job security.

Calipari’s Kentucky contract gets him a buyout if the Wildcats were to fire him. But Kentucky gets no buyout if Calipari leaves for another job. So, if both sides wants a fresh start, this is how it gets done.

This also comes on the heels of the launch of an NIL fund at Kentucky specifically to make the program one of the leaders in NIL in the game.

Matthew Postins


Matthew Postins covers baseball for several SI/Fan Nation sites. He also covers the Big 12 for and Rodeo for