National

Kentucky signs Mark Pope to five-year deal to replace John Calipari as head coach

Mark Pope is the new Kentucky men's basketball coach, the school announced on Friday.

Pope, 51, signed a five-year contract to coach the Wildcats after spending the past five seasons at BYU.

According to CBS Sports' Matt Norlander, Pope's will earn $5.5 million per season, before incentives.

Pope played two seasons at Kentucky from 1994-96 under Rick Pitino, winning a national title in 1996, and now joins Joe B. Hall as the only coaches to go on to coach the men's team after playing for the program. That's a positive on Pope's résumé as he takes over a blue blood.

His history as a coach, however, makes the hire quite a surprise.

Pope has worked as a head coach since 2015 at BYU and Utah Valley. With the Cougars, he has posted a 110-52 record in five seasons, with two NCAA tournament berths. His teams failed to win a game in both appearances, getting upset as a No. 6 seed in the first round of both.

Kentucky has only advanced out of the first round of the NCAA tournament once since 2019 after a run of dominance during John Calipari's first 10 seasons in Lexington.

It was an interesting road to get to Pope for Kentucky. A number of current and former head coaches turned down the chance take over the job following Calipari's departure to Arkansas, including UConn's Dan Hurley, Alabama's Nate Oats, Baylor's Scott Drew, the Chicago Bulls' Billy Donovan, and former Villanova coach Jay Wright.