Coach Cal Named to Conference USA Hall of Fame Class of 2022
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer John Calipari has added another accomplishment to his lengthy list of honors as Conference USA has named him part of its 2022 Hall of Fame Class.
Conference USA created its Hall of Fame in 2019 in conjunction with the league’s 25th anniversary. The 2022 class is the fourth to be inducted. Calipari is one of five inductees this year.
“Ellen and I relish our time in Conference USA and this honor does not happen without support of the tremendous staff and players we had, as well as the support of a great athletic director like R.C. Johnson,” Coach Cal said. “Thank you Conference USA and all of my staff and players for your role in this.”
Calipari is being honored by the league for his impressive tenure as head men’s basketball coach at the University of Memphis, where he coached from the 2000-01 season through 2008-09. Calipari led the Tigers to the 2008 NCAA title game, including 38 wins that season, making him the winningest coach for a single season in NCAA history. As a result, he earned his second Naismith National Coach of the Year honor, becoming only the second coach to earn the honor multiple times since its inception in 1987. He was also C-USA Coach of the Year that season.
Calipari, the 2009 Sports Illustrated National Coach of the Year, led the Tigers to nine straight 20-win campaigns and nine consecutive postseason appearances, the only Memphis coach to do that. He posted 252 on-court wins — 28.0 wins per season — as the Tigers’ head coach, making him the winningest coach in school history. From 2006-08, the Tigers won 104 games, making Calipari the winningest head coach in NCAA Division I history in a three-year span.
The 2006 C-USA Coach of the Year, Calipari led Memphis to three consecutive NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearances, the first time in school history that was accomplished. He directed the Tigers to the 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08 C-USA regular season crowns, which was the first time in school history the program has won three consecutive outright league regular-season titles. The program also won the C-USA Tournament each of those three seasons. Calipari led Memphis to nine straight 20-win seasons and nine straight postseasons. Fifteen of his final 18 seniors who came through the Memphis program earned their bachelor’s degrees
After bringing the University of Massachusetts basketball program to national prominence in the ‘90s and resurrecting the Memphis basketball program in the 2000s, Calipari became the 22nd coach in UK history and seventh in the last 80 years. A 2004-05 UMASS Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, Calipari has been honored in recent years with a statue at UMASS and his alma mater Clarion named its basketball playing surface Coach Cal Court.
Calipari’s overall on-court record is 810-241 (77.1%) following his 13th season at UK. He finished the 2020-21 season with the second-highest on-court winning percentage among active NCAA Division I coaches with 10 years of experience at college basketball’s Division I level, trailing only Mark Few.
Calipari is one of only two coaches (also Roy Williams) in NCAA Division I history with 400 or more wins in his first 16 years as a head coach, and his 173 victories from 2008-12 are the most ever for a coach over a five-year span in Division I history. He earned his 800th career on-court victory in 2021-22 and became the fourth-fastest coach to achieve that milestone.
His 11 30-win on-court seasons are third most for a head coach in NCAA Division I history, and he is the first coach in NCAA Division I history to record five straight on-court 30-win seasons. For his college career as a head coach (30 seasons), Calipari has 27 on-court seasons of 20 or more on-court wins and 20 different seasons of 25 on-court campaigns. His 26 consecutive on-court 20-win seasons, which was snapped in 2020-21, is the second-longest streak in NCAA history, trailing only Smith, who had 27.
His NCAA Tournament on-court record is 56-20, a .737 winning percentage, and his 31 NCAA Tournament wins are the most in school history. His six Final Four appearances are tied for seventh most by a coach all-time, and his 11 straight NCAA Tournament wins prior to the 2014 national championship loss was the longest winning streak in the tournament since the Florida Gators won 12 straight in 2006 and 2007.
When UK won the 2017 SEC regular-season title, Calipari became the first NCAA Division I coach to lead three different programs (UMass, Memphis, Kentucky) to five on-court regular-season league titles five different times. His 31 combined regular-season and conference championships trails only Few (39 titles) among all active coaches. All-time, Calipari trails only the great Adolph Rupp (41) and Few.
From UMass to Memphis and now Kentucky, Calipari’s career has been successful throughout, but his most run in Lexington has been the best stretch of his career. During Calipari’s 13 seasons at UK, no coach in the NCAA Tournament has more wins (31), Final Fours (four), Elite Eights (seven) or Sweet 16s (eight).
In advancing to the 2015 Final Four, Coach Cal became one of just three coaches all-time to make four Final Fours in a five-year span, joining Krzyzewski and John Wooden as the other coaches to achieve that feat. Twice at UK (in 2012 and in 2015) his teams have won 38 games, tying his 2008 Memphis team for the most wins in college basketball history. At the end of the 2014-15 season, Calipari became the 96th coach to join the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, considered one of the ultimate achievements in the game.
As someone who prides himself on helping young men reach their dreams, he has helped 56 players earn selection in the NBA Draft during his college coaching career, including 45 over his first 13 seasons at Kentucky. The 45 picks over that 13-season span are 12 more than the next closest school (Duke).