UMass to retire Calipari jersey

By Jamie Cushman

 (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The University of Massachusetts will retire a jersey in honor of former men’s basketball coach John Calipari during the 2015-2016 season, according to a news release Wednesday.

The jersey retirement will be a part of a 20th anniversary celebration of the team’s 1996 NCAA Final Four run. Other information regarding the anniversary celebration, including the date of Calipari’s jersey retirement, will be announced later.

Calipari, who currently serves as the head coach at Kentucky, was the head coach at UMass from 1988 to 1996.

Calipari achieved unprecedented success as head coach of the Minutemen, leading the team to five straight Atlantic-10 titles and multiple deep NCAA tournament runs, including the team’s 1996 NCAA Final Four run. Wins from that season, however, were vacated years later due to star player Marcus Camby’s NCAA rules violation for accepting money from an agent.

Calipari will become the sixth person and first non-player from the men’s basketball program to be honored with a jersey retirement. He will be joining George “Trigger” Burke (32), Julius “Dr. J” Erving (32), Lou Roe (15), who played under Calipari from 1991 to 1995, Al Skinner (30) and Camby (21).

Calipari finished his time at UMass with an overall record of 193-71 (.731), good for the second most wins in UMass men’s basketball history behind Jack Leaman (217). He earned A-10 Coach of the year honors in 1993, 1994, and 1996, in addition to the Naismith Coach of the Year award in 1996 – the first and only time a Minutemen head coach has won that award.

Calipari was previously honored by the school when he was elected to the UMass Hall of Fame in 2004.

Calipari’s influence can still be found in the Mullins Center today in the form of head coach Derek Kellogg and his coaching staff. Kellogg played under Calipari for four years at UMass, as well as serving as an assistant for Calipari at the University of Memphis for eight years before returning to his alma mater.

Assistant coach Lou Roe, who already had his jersey retired, played for Calipari for the Minutemen during the 1990s. Other connections to Calipari include assistant coach Andy Allison, who served as an assistant under Calipari for six years at Memphis and strength and conditioning coach Richard Hogans who served as the director of performance enhancement at Memphis from 2004-2011.

Calipari oversaw three players drafted into the NBA during his time in Amherst: Roe in the first round of the 1995 draft, Lari Ketner in the second round of the 1996 draft, and the program’s highest ever draft pick, Camby, second overall in 1996.

News of Calipari’s jersey retirement was first reported by UMass and Daily Collegian alumnus Marc Bertrand of Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub on Twitter Tuesday.

Jamie Cushman can be reached at [email protected]