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John Calipari hired at UMass (April 1988)

April 22

Calipari to negotiate with administrators
By Matt Gerke, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, April 22, 1988

The Collegian has learned that John Calipari, one of the finalists for the University of Massachusetts head basketball coaching job, will return to campus today to negotiate with administrators.

Calipari, an assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh, and Larry Shyatt, associate head coach at the University of New Mexico, are the leading candidates for the position, which opened up when Ron Gerlufsen resigned six weeks ago.

April 25

Calipari tabbed
By Roger Chapman, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, April 25, 1988

John Calipari, an assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh, is expected to be named the next head coach of the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team, this morning.

The announcement will be made at a press conference at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield at 11:00 a.m. Calipari was one of two finalists for the job vacated by former coach Ron Gerlufsen.

April 26

Calipari named UM hoop coach
By Roger Chapman, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, April 26, 1988

SPRINGFIELD - With a solid commitment from the University of Massachusetts administration, John Calipari, former assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh, was officially named head men's basketball coach yesterday.

John Calipari speaks with the media and audience at his introductory press conference.

Calipari's appointment, announce at a press conference at the Basketball Hall of Fame, was the culmination of a six-week search process following the resignation of former head coach Ron Gerlufsen. Calipari was one of two finalists recommended by the advisory committee set up by the athletic department. Larry Shyatt, associate head coach at the University of New Mexico, was the other finalist.

“As everyone knows, it's always an important event when we select a coach, and today is a particularly important. With basketball being very important to the University, this was given very careful attention,” UMass athletic director Frank McInerney said. “I've been in administration for many, many years and this was one of the most difficult decisions I've had to make.”

The decision to hire Calipari as UMass' next head coach was actually made last week during Calipari's second visit to the UMass campus. Up until that point, there had been speculation that several other candidates were still in the running. Those thoughts were doused yesterday, as Calipari becomes UM's 16th men's basketball coach.
( note: Calipari was actually the 17th coach in program history.)

“I'm very, very excited about this opportunity to be the head coach at UMass-Amherst. Frank has shown a lot of confidence in me and I really appreciate that,” Calipari said. “I feel very, very good about the commitment the administration has made. That's part of the reason I was so interested in this job. They want to be in the top three in the conference (Atlantic 10). They want to go to the NCAA tournament, and that's the kind of program I want to work for.”

At Pitt, Calipari was the recruiting coordinator and on-court instructor. Prior to that, he was an assistant at the University of Kansas under former Jayhawk coach Ted Owens in 1982, before becoming the recruiting coordinator at the University of Vermont in 1983. Shortly after Kansas named Larry Brown head coach, Calipari returned to Kansas where he was involved with the recruiting program and coached the junior varsity squad.

In 1985, Calipari was named an assistant by former Pitt coach Roy Chipman. Calipari stayed at Pitt after Chipman's resignation for two years under present head coach Paul Evans.

“I'm not going to promise many things. The thing that I can promise are kids that are going to work hard. They're going to play with enthusiasm. For 28 games, two hours a game, they're going to play as hard as they can and go into the locker room exhausted. We want the people of this area to be proud of us,” Calipari said. “We want to create a love affair between the University and our basketball program, and we do that by playing exciting basketball and having players on the floor that the people can relate to.”

Pitt Recruiter Calipari New UMass Coach
By Michael Vega, The Boston Globe, 4/26/1988

SPRINGFIELD – Promising to be the best coach he can be, John Calipari assumed command yesterday of the beleaguered basketball program at the University of Massachusetts. Until the UMass administration recently vowed its renewed support for the program, the head coaching spot wasn't a job – it was a misadventure, wherein for the past 10 years winning seasons eluded the Minutemen.

“I don't think we'll be able to come in here and change things overnight,” Calipari said in a news conference at the Basketball Hall of Fame. “But the biggest challenge will be next year. I'm just hoping to recruit two kids that can come in and help us. My goal after that is to recruit four players that will help take us to the next level.”

Calipari, 29, a former assistant at Pittsburgh, becomes the fifth coach to attempt to end a decade of losing seasons at UMass. He succeeds Ron Gerlufsen, who resigned in March after compiling a 55-84 five-year record.

Though he declined to discuss the exact terms of his multiyear contract, which includes a buyout clause, Calipari said jokingly, “It's between $13,000 and $7 million . . . but closer to 13.”

Said athletic director Frank McInerney, “John brings the excitement of the Big East to our conference (the Atlantic 10), he brings a great background, but most importantly he brings John Calipari to UMass.”

Referring to Calipari's relative youth and virtual inexperience as a head coach, McInerney said, “We think he's just as professional as you can get, and his background is the best you can get. His background, basically, was what made him so attractive.”

John, his wife Ellen, and daughter Erin, at his introductory press conference. Erin would grow up to play for the Minutewomen from 2005-07.

Calipari, a native of Moon, Pa., was a two-year letterman at North Carolina-Wilmington before closing his collegiate career at Clarion (Pa.) State. He began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant at Kansas in 1982 under coach Ted Owens, and was responsible for the program's scouting and summer basketball camp. A year later, he was hired as Vermont's recruiting coordinator, but returned to Kansas as a full-time assistant under Larry Brown.

In 1985, Calipari went to Pitt as recruiting coordinator for Roy Chipman and stayed on with current Panther coach Paul Evans, assembling one of the nation's finest freshman classes in 1987. During Calipari's three-year stint at Pitt, the Panthers went 64-29 and made an NIT appearance (in '86) and two consecutive NCAA appearances ('87 and '88).

“The recruiting for the Atlantic 10 will be just as tough as it was at Pitt,” he said. “Instead of going up against a coach like John Thompson, I'm going up against a John Chaney, so it's going to be just as hard.”

The search for a coach, which began six weeks ago, was narrowed from a field of 11 applicants – including UMass alumnus Al Skinner, an assistant at Rhode Island who's now considered a shoo-in replacement for Texas-bound Tom Penders – to Calipari and Larry Shyatt, an assistant at New Mexico.

“They were two very different people, but they were two people who could have got the job done,” McInerney said. “It was one of the toughest decisions I've ever made. I wound up staring at the wall at 3 a.m., wondering which way to go. But I feel we've found a man who's ready to make an extreme commitment to the program.”

news198804_calipari_hired.txt · Last modified: 2023/04/25 19:35 by mikeuma