More than two months have passed since Arkansas basketball made waves in college basketball by luring John Calipari away from Kentucky basketball after his 15-year tenure. The Hall of Fame coach has openly addressed the reasons behind the move, and this was evident once again during his appearance on the Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday morning.

Although external perspectives may have suggested that Calipari was possibly being pushed out, he refuted this notion, emphasizing that his decision was not influenced by Kentucky basketball fans.

During the interview, Patrick inquired whether it felt strange for Calipari to be introduced as the Arkansas head coach. Calipari responded by expressing his comfort with the situation and proceeded to provide an explanation for the sequence of events that led to his move.

“15 years at Kentucky,” the former Kentucky coach said.

“I loved it and it was a great run. We helped a lot of families. Won a lot of games, league championships, Final Fours, Elite Eights, national titles, Sweet Sixteens. They needed to hear another voice,” he continued.

John Calipari wasn't pushed out of Kentucky

John Calipari speaks during the off-day press conference in Memphis. The Cats will take on North Carolina in Memphis to advance to the Final Four. March 25, 2017
Michael Clevenger / Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

“Did you jump before you were pushed?” Patrick asked Calipari.

“I don't think that was the case. It had nothing to do with fans. You go to a Knicks game and they're playing bad, what are they doing in the second quarter? They're booing. Fans are fans. Kentucky fans are engaged. They're exactly what you want in a fan, until you lose a game you're not supposed to lose, and they're still engaged,” Calipari noted.

“So it had nothing to do with that. For me to do what I'm doing I needed that tailwind, no headwinds. We needed to be able to move in what we were doing. As far as saying ‘well, they pushed you out.' No, I don't think that was the case. Let it be good for both. I had 15 great years there. Let Mark Pope have 15 great years,” he continued.

Calipari expressed his readiness for a new challenge, emphasizing the opportunity to rebuild a program and guide it to national championship success. He hoped for a mutually beneficial outcome for both programs involved, including the new Kentucky basketball head coach Mark Pope. Calipari acknowledged the need for a fresh voice for Kentucky, recognizing the necessity for change.

“Let me finish how I want to finish. Let me build another program. Let's win another national championship. Let's help another 25 families. Let me do this,” said Calipari.

Choosing Arkansas

John Calipari also mentioned that he hadn't initially planned for the move, but when the opportunity presented itself, he felt compelled to take advantage of it.

Upon further reflection over a two or three day period, he noted that Arkansas basketball, being in the SEC, offered great facilities, a strong fanbase, a 20,000-seat arena, a formidable home court advantage, and substantial support. Additionally, he highlighted the opportunity to hire his son as a significant factor in his decision.

On May 23, Brad Calipari joined his father's Arkansas basketball staff as an assistant coach and Director of On-Court Player Development, following a two-year stint at Vanderbilt.

Since his official hiring two months ago, John Calipari has assembled an impressive first Razorbacks roster. The 2024 Arkansas class, currently ranked third overall, boasts the nation's top transfer portal haul, as reported by 247Sports.

The current focus of the staff revolves around finalizing the schedule for the upcoming season and actively recruiting prospects for the 2025 and 2026 classes. An important event in this regard is the official visit of 5-star guard Meleek Thomas scheduled for next Tuesday. Thomas marks the second 2025 prospect to undertake an official visit to Arkansas, with additional visits anticipated in the following months.

In the upcoming 2024-25 season, the SEC has scheduled just one game between Kentucky and Arkansas. This highly anticipated matchup will undoubtedly draw significant attention, especially within Rupp Arena.