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Kentucky gives Calipari $52.5M deal

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky gave coach John Calipari a seven-year, $52.5 million contract extension that will pay a base package of $6.5 million next season and $8 million over each of the final three seasons.

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Already one of college basketball's highest-paid coaches, Calipari led the Wildcats to the 2012 NCAA championship and is coming off his third Final Four appearance in five years with Kentucky, a 60-54 title-game loss to Connecticut in April. He has often been rumored as a potential candidate for NBA coaching openings, most recently this spring with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Calipari quickly reiterated his happiness with Kentucky, later using social media to state his commitment after Los Angeles fired coach Mike D'Antoni. He continued that theme with his new contract that pays more than most pro coaches.

''I've said over and over that I have the best job in the country,'' Calipari said in a release Thursday night. ''With the continued support from our administration and the greatest, craziest, fans in college basketball, we have accomplished a lot in our five quick years, but we still have lofty goals for the future.

''We want to continue to help young people and their families reach their dreams, while at the same time maintaining our success on the basketball court, in the classroom and in the community.''

Besides building a 152-37 record at Kentucky, Calipari has established himself as a master recruiter in landing top-three freshman classes annually. That includes next year's group which figures to make the Wildcats a title contender again, and with this contract the school appears to have locked him in for the long term.

''It has long been our goal over the last three to five years that Cal enjoy this as his final stop in coaching,'' athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in the release, ''and that he has an opportunity to finish his career at the University of Kentucky and hopefully set standards and win championships that will be remembered for many, many years to come.''

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