Kentucky has offered basketball coach John Calipari a lifetime contract, sources confirmed to ESPN. The deal would be a combination of a head-coaching extension and a paid role as an ambassador after his retirement.
The news was first reported by The Athletic.
Calipari had been in contact with UCLA about the school's open head-coaching position and had been offered $48 million over six years, The Athletic reported.
Calipari, whose current contract at Kentucky runs through 2024, is the highest-paid basketball coach in the country, with total compensation of $9.2 million this year, according to the USA Today Sports database. He also receives a reported retention bonus of $2.6 million in each of the next three Julys.
One of the issues UCLA has run into during its coaching search, sources told ESPN, is its lack of charter flights. In a stark contrast to nearly every high-major program, the Bruins have always flown commercial, even in recent years under Steve Alford. The school began mixing in charter flights during Pac-12 play this season.
UCLA has cast a wide net in its search for a replacement for Alford, who was fired on Dec. 31. The Bruins have gauged the interest of a number of big-time coaches, sources told ESPN, including Calipari and Virginia's Tony Bennett.
Kentucky went 30-7 this season, earning a 2-seed in the NCAA tournament and advancing to the Elite Eight before losing to Auburn 77-71 on Sunday.
Calipari has been to four Final Fours with Kentucky, in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015, winning the national championship in 2012. The loss to Auburn marked the third season in a row the Wildcats have advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament but fallen short of the Final Four.
Calipari, 60, has a 305-71 record at Kentucky and official lifetime record of 708-209. He has led his teams to the NCAA tournament 20 times in 27 seasons, with four official Final Fours and one title.
Calipari has twice taken teams to the Final Four only to have the wins vacated by the NCAA. His 2007-08 Memphis team, which lost to Kansas in the title game, was forced to vacate all 38 wins from the season, including five NCAA tournament wins, because star player Derrick Rose's SAT scores were invalidated. Calipari's UMass team's Final Four appearance in 1996 was erased after it was determined star player Marcus Camby had accepted money from two sports agents.