John Calipari has been given permission to meet with the University of Kentucky administration to discuss their head coaching position.
In a move that surprises no one—but causes extreme dismay to Memphis Tiger fans everywhere—Calipari apparently spoke with UK brass over the weekend, who in turn formally requested permission to pursue the coach.
Memphis Athletic Director R. C. Johnson confirms that he was, indeed, approached by Kentucky and that he gave them the green light to discuss the job opening with Calipari.
Tiger fans should take solace in this statement issued moments ago by Johnson:
"We will do everything in our power to retain (Calipari's) services at Memphis."
Calipari, however, has already met with his basketball team to clear the air about the opportunity, and many of his student-athletes seem convinced that the coach will take the job that he describes as "the Notre Dame of college basketball."
2 p.m. CDT update:
Word circulating from Lexington is that Calipari is set to sign a seven-year contract at $4 million per annum. The University of Memphis is attempting to put together a package that would entice the coach to stay with the Tigers.
3 p.m. CDT update:
Latest reports on a potential John Calipari contract with Kentucky now put the figure at an astronomical six year, $40 million dollar deal. Calipari has reportedly rejected the Memphis counteroffer.
According to reports from the Fox affiliate in Memphis, TN, Athletic Director R. C. Johnson has received permission to speak with Mike Anderson of Missouri. Anderson was said to be in talks to the brass at Missouri on a contract extension and a raise after taking the school to the Elite Eight.
7 p.m. CDT update:
In a desperation, last ditch effort to keep him in Memphis, prominent U of M boosters have scheduled a second meeting with John Calipari tonight.
The school's administration is said to be willing to meet, or even perhaps exceed, any offer made by the University of Kentucky.
The last hopes for the U of M are centered around the idea that the school can play on Calipari's emotions and persuade him to change his mind. His son is very comfortable at a Memphis area private school, and Calipari is as beloved in Memphis as any man in any city across America.
Memphis fans remain pessimistic, but at this point, no news is truly good news in the Bluff City. The school has been careful to limit any information from leaking to the press, so that any decision, once announced, will certainly be final.
Midnight CST update:
It would appear that the reports that Calipari was Kentucky-bound were grossly exaggerated.
Calipari had at least two meetings with University of Memphis boosters, and was said to be in yet another meeting late into the night with none other than Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx.
Smith and other boosters have been engaged in a determined effort to dissuade Calipari from taking the head coaching position at UK.
As of approximately 10 p.m. CDT, Calipari was meeting with his coaching staff at his home; no one knows what the content of their conversation was.
Perhaps the best summation of the situation came from C. J. Henry, the erstwhile New York Yankee baseball prospect who walked-on at Memphis, and was instrumental in the signing of his younger brother, Xavier Henry:
"I don’t think (Calipari) knows (what he is going to do),” said Henry, in an on-camera interview with the local Fox affiliate. “I mean, he’s going to, I guess, explore. I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s Kentucky basketball. I would."