The deal: Kentucky believes Calipari's worth the investment

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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Sitting on a table in John Calipari's office is "The Kentucky Vault," a historical book on Kentucky basketball that traces the roots and documents the lineage of the most famous game in town. But it is more than just a book.

It includes pullout copies of photos, articles and artifacts from some of the glory years of Big Blue basketball, even a copy of Adolph Rupp's first contract at Kentucky in 1930.

The contract is all of one page and has scribblings where changes to the agreement were made in pencil, a far cry from the legal documents issued today. But that isn't all that is drastically different.

Rupp's first contract at Kentucky paid him $11,500 a year, with an additional $3,000 for incentives and bonuses. Calipari's contract will pay him $31.65 million over eight years, making him the highest paid college coach in the country.

His deal, stunning even in a good economy, raised the eyebrows of people wondering how -- or maybe why -- a college institution would offer such a contract in difficult financial times.

"At some point in time, you must recognize how important this position is to our state," Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said. "It's more than just basketball in our state. It's a significant investment in the heartbeat of the state. We need to return Kentucky basketball to prominence in the world of college basketball. We needed someone to create that, on and off the court.

"John is someone we invested our resources in. We believe he's worth that investment."

Calipari will receive an annual base salary of $400,000 for each of the eight years of the contract, with the bulk of his money coming from the school's broadcasting package and endorsement deals that include Nike shoes and equipment. Those agreements will pay him $3.3 million in 2009, $3.4 million in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 and $2.85 million in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

His incentives include $50,000 for winning the Southeastern Conference regular-season championship, $50,000 for winning the SEC tournament, $100,000 for making the Sweet 16, $175,000 for making the Final Four and $375,000 for winning the national title. If Calipari stays at Kentucky for the life of the contract, he will also receive incentives of $750,000 in 2014, $1 million in 2015 and $1.25 million in 2016.

What's more, if the Kentucky basketball team achieves a .950 Academic Progress Rate for its players, Calipari will receive $50,000 in each academic year the APR is achieved. He will receive another $50,000 annually if his team achieves at least a 75 percent graduation rate.

That's not all.

Calipari gets membership in the country club of his choice, the use of two "quality" automobiles, 20 prime lower-level seats to all Kentucky basketball games (home and away, regular season and postseason) and eight tickets to all Kentucky home football games.

"This job is probably right for only about six to 12 people in the country," Barnhart said. "And those are probably coaches at the top programs in the country who don't need this job. There are very few opportunities in college athletics, very few places that stand alone, where you have a chance to test your skill set. This is one of them."

Gerry Dulac can be reached at .


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