John Calipari Discusses Leaving Kentucky, Reveals Opportunity to Join Arkansas in 2007.

Arkansas men’s basketball head coach John Calipari revealed that the Razorbacks had previously pursued him when he led Memphis to the Final Four in 2007.

Calipari explained to Dan Patrick on Wednesday’s Dan Patrick Show that he couldn’t leave Memphis at the time because he didn’t want to abandon his players unless his assistant was promoted to head coach.

A conversation with Houston’s head coach Kelvin Sampson changed Calipari’s perspective on leaving Kentucky after 15 seasons. Calipari shared that he was struggling with the idea of leaving his players behind, but Sampson pointed out that the situation was different now. Players can transfer or go pro regardless of the coach’s decision.

Sampson’s remarks made Calipari reconsider, leading him to embrace a new challenge. Within 36 hours, Calipari decided he wanted to take on the opportunity at Arkansas and make a significant impact on the state’s basketball program.

In April, Calipari was named Arkansas’s new head coach. Since then, three four-star recruits from Kentucky’s 2024 class—Billy Richmond, Karter Knox, and Boogie Fland—have switched their commitments to Arkansas. Additionally, Zvonimir Ivišić, who played his freshman season at Kentucky, also joined Calipari at Arkansas.

Calipari now aims to build a competitive roster, likely centered around these new recruits, to lead Arkansas back to the NCAA Tournament after missing out this year.