Former NBA Coach of the Year campaigns for Dawn Staley to replace John Calipari at Kentucky

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The college basketball world was rocked by the news that John Calipari is changing teams, but it may be in for an even bigger development if the idea of a former NBA coaching legend actually comes to pass.

George Karl took to social media to raise the idea that Dawn Staley – who just won her third national championship as the women’s head coach at the University of South Carolina – take over for Calipari as head coach of the University of Kentucky men’s team.

After 15 seasons at Kentucky, Calipari reportedly is leaving to become the head coach at the University of Arkansas.

An NBA head coach for three seasons with the New Jersey Nets, Calipari took over at Kentucky in the 2009-10 season and won the 2012 NCAA title. However, the Wildcats have been back in the Final Four only twice since then and have been knocked out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in two of the past three seasons, including this year when as a No. 3 seed, they were upset by No. 14 seed Oakland University.

On the other hand, Staley has found incredible recent success with the South Carolina women’s team and emerged as one of the top coaches in the game at any level. On Sunday, she completed an undefeated season with her team’s victory over the University of Iowa and superstar Caitlin Clark in the national championship game.

Staley also coached South Carolina to national titles in 2017 and 2022. Under her guidance, the team has reached the Final Four the past four seasons and six times overall.

No woman has ever been the full-time head coach of a Division I men’s college basketball team.

Calipari also coached the University of Massachusetts Amherst and University of Memphis to the Final Four earlier in his career and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015. At Arkansas, he is replacing Eric Musselman, who left to become the head coach at the University of Southern California.

Among the rumored early candidates to replace Calipari at Kentucky are University of Connecticut head coach Dan Hurley, University of Alabama head coach Nate Oats and former Villanova University head coach Jay Wright.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has focused on New York sports. He has covered the NBA and NFL for almost three decades and is still waiting for the next championship for the Knicks and Jets.