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ESPN explains why John Calipari has not taken a voluntary COVID-19 pay cut

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UK Athletics has a luxury not many others have.

Calipari Drew Brown - Sea of Blue

John Calipari is the highest paid coach in college basketball as he brought in $8.2 million during the 2019-2020 season. However, he has not taken a pay cut during the coronavirus pandemic while UK has been forced to furlough employees and make budget cuts.

Thankfully, an article from ESPN provided a clear understanding as to why that is the case.

In the article, ESPN detailed a list of college football and basketball coaches that have not taken a pay cut. Coach Cal is at the top of the college basketball list, but it is important to note that none of that money is coming from the university.

UK Athletics is one of the very few athletic departments in the country that is actually self-sufficient and is able to operate without state or university funds or student fees. In fact, they even contribute a big portion of their revenue back to the school.

UK basketball spokesman Eric Lindsey gave ESPN a much better understanding.

“At Kentucky, Calipari’s $8.2 million salary also has not been cut. In April, the school president announced that he expected layoffs, furloughs and 10% budget cuts across campus to address a $70 million shortfall. During a board of trustees meeting in June, athletic director Mitch Barnhart laid out a 17% reduction to his department for the 2020-21 school year and described it as a “necessary sacrifice.” Barnhart suggested that rather than cut salaries, money could be saved in the coming year by, among other things, eliminating charter flights for some teams — a change that could lead to some athletes missing additional class time if they return to campus this fall.”

Calipari and Barnhart declined interview requests. Spokesman Eric Lindsey pointed to philanthropic work and donations Calipari has made during the pandemic. Lindsey added that Calipari “only receives $400,000 of his salary from the athletic department,” with the majority coming from the school’s marketing partner, JMI. Lindsey also suggested that Calipari’s salary shouldn’t be considered in the context of the university’s budget woes because “the athletic department operates on an independent budget and does not take any funds from the university.”

Calipari has been doing a lot to give back during these tough times even announcing that his “Coffee with Cal” initiative raised over $1.5 million for coronavirus relief.

Here is the chart from ESPN that details which coaches have and have not taken a pay cut as well as the percentage of athletic revenue that comes from the university or student fees.

You can get more information on these coaches as well as coaches on the football side of things here.