Kentucky 'Closing In' On Surprising Coaching Hire: Report

By Jason Hall

April 12, 2024

Georgetown v Kentucky
Photo: Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team is reportedly "closing in" on hiring BYU head coach Mark Pope, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein Thursday (April 11) night.

"BREAKING: Kentucky is closing in on hiring BYU's Mark Pope, per a source," Rothstein wrote on his X account.

The deal between Kentucky and Pope is reportedly "expected to come together in the near future," sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed to ESPN's Pete Thamel.

Pope, 51, played for the Wildcats from 1994 to 1996, which included winning the 1996 NCAA national championship, after transferring from Washington. The UK alum has a 187-108 overall coaching record, which includes a 110-52 (10-8 WCC/Big 12) record during five seasons at BYU and a 77-56 (34-24 WAC) record during four seasons at Utah Valley.

Kentucky's sudden coaching vacancy came hours after reports that head coach John Calipari was "finalizing" a deal to become the next head coach at Arkansas, which had since been officially completed prior to Calipari being introduced on Wednesday (April 10). The agreement was made possible by Calipari's long-standing ties to longtime Arkansas benefactor John H. Tyson.

Calipari went 410-122 (198-65 SEC) during 15 seasons at Kentucky, which included winning the 2012 NCAA national championship, as well as six SEC regular season and six SEC tournament titles. The 65-year-old has an 813-260 overall record as a collegiate head coach, which includes stints with the Massachusetts Minutemen (1988-96) and Memphis Tigers (2000-2009).

Calipari will replace former Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman, who accepted the head coaching position with the USC Trojans on Thursday (April 4).

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