March 30, 2009

Memphis coach John Calipari appears to be very close to completing an agreement to become the next coach at the University of Kentucky, four sources with knowledge of the situation have told

While one source says it is a "done deal", the second cautioned that the deal was not completed but is "moving in that direction." A news conference could be held at the school as early as Tuesday.

As further indication of how quickly both sides are moving to an agreement, a source told on Monday that former Kentucky center Nazr Mohammed called Calipari to recommend that he hire Scott Padgett, another UK alum, as an assistant.

Calipari has compiled a 252-68 record in his nine years at Memphis, where he took the Tigers to the Sweet 16 this season. Earlier on Monday, Memphis agreed to let Kentucky speak with Calipari, but said they would work hard to keep him as the coach of the Tigers.

Kentucky fired Billy Gillispie last week after only two years on the job, citing bad chemistry among other problems.

The Commercial Appeal newspaper reported on its Web site that Calipari met with his players Monday morning.

Calipari has a 137-14 record over the past four seasons in which the Tigers were the only team to earn either a No. 1 or 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. He guided Memphis to a national runner-up finish last season, and the Tigers (33-4) were ousted in the West Regional semifinal on Thursday night.

He currently has the top-rated recruiting class in the country headed to Memphis, but his latest recruit 6-foot-10 DeMarcus Cousins committed verbally within the past month and could follow Calipari to Kentucky if the coach leaves.

Landing Calipari won't be cheap. He has four years left on his contract paying him $2.35 million annually. He also has an annuity averaging $1 million over the deal through 2013.

Calipari's past NCAA transgressions also could be problematic for a program still sensitive of its image following the recruiting scandal left behind by Eddie Sutton in the late-1980s.

Massachusetts had to vacate its '96 Final Four appearance after star Marcus Camby admitted to accepting gifts from a sports agent.

Calipari moved on to the NBA before landing at Memphis in 2000. The Tigers have not had any troubles during his tenure while developing into a national powerhouse.

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