NEW YORK -- Memphis coach John Calipari will ink a multiyear contract extension that will take him through 2010, a reliable source has told me. He's close to solidifying the deal, and he should sign it within the next 10 days.
With the recently announced departures of five key Conference USA schools to the Big East, some observers thought Calipari would also bolt -- since Memphis is one of the few high-profile hoop schools left in C-USA.
C-USA schools Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette, DePaul and South Florida are slated to start playing in the Big East in the 2005-06 school year. And I've learned that there has been lots of negative recruiting in recent weeks from opposing coaches who were telling recruits that Calipari would be leaving Memphis for greener pastures because of the C-USA defections.
|Coach John Calipari envisions a dominant Memphis hoop squad in the new C-USA.|
With this new deal, Calipari wants to quell those rumors immediately.
Calipari is envisioning a situation at Memphis similar to the one he enjoyed as head coach at Massachusetts. In his last five years there, UMass won five straight Atlantic 10 titles, culminating in a trip to the 1996 Final Four. In a league that also featured coach John Chaney and Temple, that was quite an accomplishment, baby!
After his UMass success, Calipari coached the New Jersey Nets for two-plus seasons. Hired by Memphis in March 2000, he's now in his fourth season with the Tigers (he led them to the 2002 NIT championship).
Calipari believes he can build a national program at Memphis despite the five defections -- and dominate C-USA in the process, with opportunities for trips to the NCAA Tournament year in and year out. He's excited about the possibilities, seeing the glass as half-full rather than half-empty.
Already, Calipari has an outstanding recruiting class for next year, led by a commitment from blue-chip guard Darius Washington of Orlando.
The bottom line is that it looks like Calipari will be at Memphis for a long time to come.
Memphis Falls In Opener
In the first college-basketball game of the 2003-04 season, Wake Forest defeated Memphis 85-76 Thursday night at the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in New York's Madison Square Garden. In the second game of the doubleheader, Marquette defeated St. John's 52-45.
On Friday (the second and final night of Coaches vs. Cancer), Pittsburgh beat Alabama 71-62 and Saint Joseph's topped Gonzaga 73-66.
Coaches vs. Cancer utilizes a Great Eight-type, single-game format (not a winners-advance format with an ultimate tournament champ). It's great to see the season is finally here!
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