REPORT:Mark Popethe owner of the Kentucky has automatically sold the entire team for than $4.08 billions.

Days after John Calipari left town, Mark Pope stood on a podium in front of a sold-out crowd at Rupp Arena on Sunday.


During his official introduction, Kentucky’s new coach, who signed a five-year deal for $5.5 million per season, said he’s aware of the expectations around the program.



“I understand the assignment,” Pope said. “We are here to win banners. As we go through this journey, we’re here to win banners in Nashville [at the SEC tournament] because you guys turn out in Nashville like nobody else and that matters. And our job here and our assignment is here to win banners in the Final Four, national championships. That’s our job.”


Pope’s arrival marked the latest step in a surprising sequence of events that has changed the SEC and men’s college basketball. Three days ago, Calipari was introduced as the head coach at Arkansas following a 15-year tenure that included the 2012 national title. Calipari decided to leave the Wildcats after a series of lackluster postseason finishes and speculation about his future.


Kentucky, widely considered one of the top jobs in the sport, had reportedly pursued elite candidates, such as UConn’s Dan Hurley, Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan, Baylor’s Scott Drew and Alabama head coach Nate Oats. After the school failed to land some of its most coveted candidates, Pope — a member of Kentucky’s 1996 national title team — emerged as athletic director Mitch Barnhart’s pick.


Pope, who has previously coached at both Utah Valley and BYU, told the thousands who gathered for a news conference Sunday that the leaders at his previous stops always understood his passion for Kentucky, where he averaged 7.9 PPG and 5.7 RPG from 1994 to 1996 following his transfer from Washington. He then played six years in the NBA.


“They know my heart bleeds blue Kentucky,” Pope said. “And [Barnhart] knew that. Maybe, he was a little cautious calling me because he knew I was going to say, ‘Yes,’ before he ever finished the question.”

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