Kentucky coaching rumors tracker: Latest news on Scott Drew, Billy Donovan, more potential John Calipari replacements

After 15 seasons at Kentucky, head coach John Calipari is headed to Arkansas.

The shocking story started to develop on Sunday and evolved rapidly. The move comes after the Wildcats were upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, falling short of the second weekend for the third year in a row.

In a video posted on Tuesday thanking Kentucky, Calipari confirmed that he was leaving his job at the helm of the Wildcats program. He stated that the two sides agreed that the program would benefit from a change at head coach. 

A message to #BBN: pic.twitter.com/TG344ipTfZ

— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) April 9, 2024

“The last few weeks, we’ve come to realize that this program probably needs to hear another voice,” Calipari said. “That the university as a whole has to have another voice, giving guidance about this program that they hear and the fans need to hear another voice.

“We’ve loved it here, but we think it’s time for us to step away and step away completely from the program. There have been opportunities that have been presented to us, so we’re discussing them as a family.”

Calipari’s departure from Kentucky marks the end of an era for Big Blue Nation. Even though he only collected one national championship ring during his tenure, Calipari became an icon for the program, establishing himself as one of the best recruiters in the country and pioneering the one-and-done era in college basketball.

Replacing him won’t be easy, but a prestigious program like Kentucky should have a long list of credentialed coaches who will be interested in taking the job.

The Sporting News has you covered with the latest rumors on Kentucky’s coaching search below.

MORE: John Calipari replacements: Ranking Kentucky’s best coaching candidates, from Mark Pope to Rick Pitino

Kentucky coaching rumors tracker

BYU’s Mark Pope ‘lined up’ to be Kentucky’s next coach

Date: April 11

Source: Matt Norlander, CBS Sports

Pope is Kentucky’s guy, per reports, and the Wildcats are expected to make it official with the BYU coach by the end of Thursday night. The 51-year-old has been with BYU since 2019 and was head coach at Utah Valley from 2015-19. He had success at both stops, but he’s 0-2 in the NCAA Tournament. 

BYU’s Mark Pope is a candidate for Kentucky

Date: April 11

Source: Jon Rothstein, CBS Sports

While Scott Drew and Dan Hurley were ruled out of Kentucky’s hunt to replace John Calipari, BYU’s Mark Pope has emerged as a candidate. In the program’s first season in the Big 12 and fifth with Pope at the helm, he helped lead the Cougars to an 10-8 conference record and 23-11 overall record. Pope would be a familiar face for the Wildcats, as he played for Kentucky for two seasons during the mid-1990s. 

‘0 percent chance’ Dan Hurley leaves UConn for Kentucky

Date: April 11

Source: Matt Norlander, CBS Sports

It should hardly be a surprise to anyone, but there won’t be any chance Dan Hurley leaves the Huskies after winning back-to-back national championships to coach at Kentucky. As a source told CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander, Hurley would turn down $20 million if offered by the Wildcats to leave his post.

Scott Drew to remain at Baylor

Date: April 11

SourceMatt Norlander, CBS Sports

Scott Drew was rumored to be negotiating a potential deal with Kentucky, but he ultimately decided to stay at Baylor, per Matt Norlander of CBS Sports. The Wildcats will have to move on to another candidate as a result.

Scott Drew ‘in negotiations’ with Kentucky, decision expected soon

Date: April 11

Source: Adam Zagoria, NJ.com

Kentucky is negotiating with long-time Baylor coach Scott Drew to be its successor to John Calipari, per NJ.com’s Adam Zagoria. A decision from Drew’s camp about the opening could come “as early as Thursday.”

Drew has a 446-244 record at Baylor and guided the Bears to a national championship in 2021. He would instantly command success in Lexington and could help ensure that the Wildcats don’t skip a beat as they move to their post-Calipari era.

Kentucky is targeting Baylor’s Scott Drew as their next head coach

Date: April 9

Source: Adam Zagoria, NJ.com

Drew was an assumed name that would pop up in Kentucky’s head coaching search and now, it appears he is a legitimate option. Kentucky is “targeting” Drew to replace Calipari and the two sides are “in talks,” according to NJ.com’s Zagoria.

Drew has turned Baylor into one of the most consistent programs in the country over his 21-year tenure. He owns an impressive 446-244 record in that span, leading the Bears to a national championship in 2021.

In line with Kentucky’s recent program model, Drew has helped several prospects reach the NBA level during his tenure. Current players like Keyonte George, Jeremy Sochan, Davion Mitchell and Taurean Prince all became first-round picks under his watch.

Dan Hurley plans to stay at UConn despite Kentucky opening

Date: April 9

Source: Dan Hurley

After leading UConn to its second national championship in as many years, many believed Hurley could be a potential target for Kentucky.

The Huskies head coach stated his focus is not on another job, but on leading UConn to a “dynasty in modern times.”

“Now you’re thinking in your brain, as I’m looking at the locker room, about the chance to do it three times, like a dynasty in modern times. I mean, that’s what I’m thinking about,” Hurley said in response to Kentucky’s job opening.

Jay Wright declines interest in Kentucky head coaching job

Date: April 8

Source: Jay Wright

Wright has constantly floated to the top of any head coaching vacancy since retiring in 2022. The former Villanova legend put an end to the Kentucky rumors before they even started, though.

“The guy that replaces him is going to be in a really difficult position,” Wright said on the national championship pregame broadcast. “[Calipari] is a basketball genius. What he did in recruiting all of those pros and all of those guys who come back to Kentucky makes that program as strong as ever.”

Seth Davis followed up by asking, “It’s a firm ‘no,’ though?”

“Yes,” Wright said while laughing.

Nate Oats affirms his commitment to Alabama

Date: April 8

Source: Nate Oats

After leading Alabama to the No. 1 overall seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament and reaching the Final Four in this year’s March Madness, Oats became a hot-button name to replace Calipari.

The Crimson Tide head coach put an end to those rumors Monday with a statement on his X account.

Billy Donovan is at the top of an “aspirational” candidate list

Date: April 8

Source: Pete Thamel, ESPN

Donovan’s name frequently pops up when high-major college coaching jobs become available, given his history as a two-time national champion head coach with Florida back in 2006 and ’07.

ESPN’s Pete Thamel noted that the timing for a potential Donovan hiring is not ideal, though. The Chicago Bulls head coach still has a week remaining in the NBA season, then his team will compete in the Play-In Tournament (and possibly, the playoffs).

“That is a long time from today if you’re going to wait to talk to Billy Donovan,” Thamel said.

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