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Head Basketball Coach, University of Kentucky Wildcats

At a Glance

John Calipari : Biography at a Glance

  • John Calipari is the head coach of the University of Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team 
  • During his 28 year college coaching career he has guided six teams to the Final Four, led one to a national championship and helped 49 players earn selection in the NBA Draft
  • The second coach in NCAA history to bring three different teams to the Final Four
  • One of just three coaches ever to make four Final Fours in a five-year span
  • Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015
  • Calipari launched his foundation in 2012, and since then the foundation has worked with several key partners, including Samaritan’s Feet, 4 Paws for Ability, Team Focus, the Urban League of Lexington-Fayette County, One Parent Scholar House, and the Kentucky Banker’s Association
  • Author of “Players First” and “Success Is the Only Option”
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Biography

A “players-first” coach with a penchant for helping people reach their dreams, John Calipari, a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, has guided six teams to the Final Four, led one to a national championship and helped 49 players earn selection in the NBA Draft during his 28-year college coaching career.

After bringing the University of Massachusetts basketball program to national prominence in the ‘90s and resurrecting the Memphis basketball program in the 2000s, Calipari became the 22nd coach in UK history and seventh in the last 80 years.

Calipari’s overall on-court record is 775-217 (.781) following his 11th season at UK. He finished the 2019-20 season with the second-highest on-court winning percentage among active NCAA Division I coaches with 10 years of experience at college basketball’s Division I level, trailing only Mark Few.

Calipari is one of only two coaches (Roy Williams) in NCAA Division I history to have 400 or more wins in his first 16 years as a head coach, and his 173 victories from 2008-12 are the most ever for a coach over a five-year span in Division I history. Since the 2005-06 season, he has the best winning percentage among all Division I coaches. On the NCAA Division I list for best on-court winning percentage (minimum 10 years), Calipari entered the 2018-19 season in ninth place and ahead of Krzyzewski, Bill Self, Jim Boeheim, Bob Huggins, Lute Olson, Dean Smith and Phog Allen.

His 11 30-win on-court seasons are third most for a head coach in NCAA Division I history, and he is the first coach in NCAA Division I history to record five straight on-court 30-win seasons. For his college career (28 years), Calipari has 26 on-court seasons of 20 or more on-court wins and 19 different seasons of 25 on-court campaigns. His 26 consecutive on-court 20-win seasons is the second-longest streak in NCAA history, trailing only Smith, who had 27.
 

His NCAA Tournament on-court record is 56-19, a .747 winning percentage, and his 31 NCAA Tournament wins are the most in school history. His six Final Four appearances are tied for sixth most by a coach all-time, and his 11 straight NCAA Tournament wins prior to the 2014 national championship loss was the longest winning streak in the tournament since the Florida Gators won 12 straight in 2006 and 2007.

When UK won the 2017 SEC regular-season title, Calipari became the first NCAA Division I coach to lead three different programs (UMass, Memphis, Kentucky) to five on-court regular-season league titles five different times. His 31 combined regular-season and conference championships trails only Few (35 titles) among all active coaches. All-time, Calipari trails only the great Adolph Rupp (41) and Few.

Kentucky lost three members of its 2011 Final Four team (two to the draft, one to graduation), but Calipari reloaded with the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class for the third straight season. Included in the class were eventual National Player of the Year Anthony Davis and All-American Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

En route to the national championship, Calipari guided the Wildcats to an NCAA record-tying 38 wins, a perfect 16-0 mark in the Southeastern Conference and an SEC Tournament championship, all while extending his winning streak in Rupp Arena to 51 straight games. Calipari later extended his perfect mark at home as UK’s coach to 54 games before finally losing in his fourth year at Kentucky.

Calipari has raised millions of dollars to help the lives of those in need in the Commonwealth and beyond. He has had a particular passion to assist those impacted by natural disasters. For instance, in 2010, he used a telethon to raise more than $1 million for victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. He followed that up with telethons in 2012, raising $1 million for victims of Superstorm Sandy, and in 2017, for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Calipari launched his foundation in 2012, and since then the foundation has worked with several key partners, including Samaritan’s Feet, 4 Paws for Ability, Team Focus, the Urban League of Lexington-Fayette County, One Parent Scholar House, and the Kentucky Banker’s Association, which facilitates a program to teach Kentucky students the importance of financial management.  To these groups alone, the foundation has donated more than $1.5 million, a figure that does not include matching funds that have been contributed from individuals and corporations. Other nonprofits the foundation has supported through the years include the V Foundation, the Starkey Hearing Foundation, the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky, the Louisville Zoo Foundation and the American Red Cross – Bluegrass Chapter.

In 2013, Calipari initiated hosting an annual alumni weekend around his basketball fantasy experience with the intent to raise money for charity. After generating $350,000 for selected organizations and charities during the inaugural game, the weekend has generated millions of dollars for charity since its inception.

In 2019, when federal workers were without pay due to a government shutdown, he, his wife and his foundation assisted workers with financial help and grocery gift cards.

Author of five books, including the New York Times bestseller Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out and his latest Success is the Only Option: The Art of Coaching Extreme Talent, Calipari is a master of communication and maximizing talent. He lives by the motto “that it’s never a matter of how far you have fallen, but instead it’s about how high you bounce back.”

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Coach did an awesome job and really connected with our team and delivered exactly what we were looking for about leadership.

Davis H. Elliot Company, Inc.

Coach was amazing. He was engaging, personal, took his time, motivation, and effective. I'd be happy to give a recommendation to anyone thinking about bringing him in as a speaker.

Power Home Remodeling Group
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