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The Kentucky basketball team is one of college sports greatest individual programs.
Kentucky’s won eight national titles, and appeared in more NCAA tournament games than any other basketball program.
All that is to say, expectations for Wildcats basketball are as high or higher than for virtually anyone else.
But despite an upset win over #5 Tennessee on Saturday, it’s been yet another disappointing season for Kentucky and head coach John Calipari.
The team is currently unranked, and just 11-6. That’s bad enough, but what’s worse is that dysfunction appears to be spreading through the program.
The Athletic reported that Calipari and athletic director Mitch Barnhart essentially don’t speak to each other anymore.
“For whatever reason, he and Calipari no longer have a relationship of any significance. They don’t speak to each other, Barnhart attends fewer games and he hasn’t been to a Kentucky basketball practice in ages,” Kyle Tucker revealed.
Where’s Kentucky Going Under Calipari?
While there’s certainly a pathway to success even if the two don’t get along, it’s likely a much harder path.
Generally successful programs have alignment from university leadership, the athletic department and head coach.
That doesn’t seem to be the case here.
Calipari has had some fantastic achievements at Kentucky, winning a title in 2012 and putting together elite recruiting classes virtually every year.
But the Wildcats haven’t reached the Final Four since the 2014-2015 season, and finished a shocking 9-16 in 2020-2021.
Some fans have turned on Calipari, quite literally asking him to go elsewhere.
The upset win over Tennessee should help, but there’s been a sense of desperation around the program this year.
Calipari has a lengthy contract through virtually the end of the decade, for $8.6 million per season. It seems unlikely the school would part ways, given how much they still owe him.
Not to mention his track record of success.
But with such a strained relationship, a Kentucky turnaround might be even further away than previously thought.