- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2009

From combined dispatches

John Calipari agreed Tuesday to leave Memphis and the dominant program he built and take on the challenge - and riches - of returning Kentucky to college basketball glory.

Calipari will receive an eight-year, $31.65 million deal plus incentives, according to the university, making him the highest-paid coach in college basketball. The school also will pay Memphis a $200,000 buyout.

The 50-year-old Calipari has a career record of 445-140 in 17 seasons. He chose to leave Memphis after nine seasons of success, including a record of 137-14 over the past four years.

He spent the day considering the Wildcats’ lucrative offer and calling former Kentucky coaches, including Joe B. Hall.

Hall said the informal chat centered on what it takes to survive one of college basketball’s most prestigious and most scrutinized jobs. Kentucky fired Billy Gillispie last Friday after two disappointing seasons.

The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tenn., first reported the hiring.

Tigers walk-on Preston Laird said Calipari met with the team Tuesday afternoon, first as a group and then with individual players. The freshman guard described the meeting as very quiet: “Nobody really said anything.”

Calipari’s deal would eclipse the $3.5 million average salary of Florida’s Billy Donovan and dwarf those of Calipari’s predecessors Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith and Gillispie.

WOMEN: Courtney Paris of Oklahoma is the first four-time All-American in women’s college basketball, and sophomore Maya Moore of Connecticut is a unanimous selection in her second appearance on the Associated Press’ All-America team.

Moore is joined on the first team by teammate Renee Montgomery and seniors Angel McCoughtry of Louisville and Kristi Toliver of Maryland.

Auburn forward DeWanna Bonner leads the second team and is joined by Jayne Appel of Stanford, Marissa Coleman of Maryland, Tina Charles of Connecticut and Jantel Lavender of Ohio State.

MISSOURI: Mike Anderson has agreed to a new seven-year contract and will remain men’s basketball coach.

The announcement caps a whirlwind couple of days for the school and Anderson, who had been mentioned for coaching vacancies at Georgia and Memphis.

Anderson coached Missouri this season to a school-record 31 wins and its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2003. The Tigers advanced to the West Region final before losing to top-seeded Connecticut.

VCU: A university official said the school has picked Florida assistant coach Shaka Smart to be its new men’s basketball coach.

The official familiar with the decision told the Associated Press that Smart has not yet signed a contract, but an announcement is planned for Thursday.

The 32-year-old Smart was an assistant to Billy Donovan at Florida last season and will become the second consecutive Donovan assistant to take over as the Rams’ coach.

Anthony Grant, Donovan’s right-hand man for 10 years at Florida, spent the last three seasons as VCU’s coach, compiling a 76-25 record and leading the Rams to two NCAA tournament appearances.

Grant, 42, was hired last week to rebuild Alabama’s basketball program.

VIRGINIA: The university said new men’s basketball coach Tony Bennett has agreed to “a memorandum of understanding” that will be pay him $1.7 million annually for five years.

Virginia also said Bennett will receive a $500,000 signing bonus and another $500,000 if he stays five years.

The 39-year-old Bennett was hired Monday after three years at Washington State. He had a 68-30 record and two NCAA tournament appearances with the Cougars.

PURDUE: Center JaJuan Johnson has decided to return for his junior season after considering a jump to the NBA.

The All-Big Ten selection and member of the league’s all-defense team told the Associated Press about his decision in an e-mail.

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