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#pounditTuesday, June 18, 2024

John Calipari ended up at Arkansas thanks to chicken billionaire

John Calipari at the podium

Mar 28, 2019; Kansas City, MO, United States; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari speaks during a press conference for the midwest regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

John Calipari stunned the sports world over the weekend when he parted ways with Kentucky to take the head coach job at Arkansas, and Razorbacks fans should be grateful that chicken money allowed them to make the big hire.

In their initial story about Calipari finalizing a 5-year deal with Arkansas, ESPN’s Pete Thamel and Jeff Borzello noted that Calipari has “long-standing ties” with John H. Tyson, an Arkansas benefactor who is the chairman of Tyson Foods. The connection between Calipari and the billionaire was said to be “the key relationship to help the deal come together.”

Tyson’s grandfather, John W. Tyson, founded Tyson Foods. John H. is estimated to be worth nearly $3 billion.

Calipari will reportedly have a base salary of less than the $8.5 million he was making at Kentucky, but his contract includes incentives that will allow him to surpass that number. That is likely where Tyson and other prominent Arkansas Donors — one of which is Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones — come in.

In addition to his salary, Calipari has been offered access to NIL resources that exceed $5 million per year. That was another factor in him taking the Kentucky job, and it is one that Tyson probably had a hand in.

The 65-year-old Calipari had some obvious reasons for wanting to leave Kentucky, but it sounds like having friends in high places steered him toward his new job.

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