Mark Pope Hired as Kentucky Head Coach

Kentucky has found its next men’s basketball coach following John Calipari’s decision to take over at Arkansas. On Friday, the school announced that it has hired Mark Pope to lead the program.

Pope has been the head coach at BYU for the past five seasons and also has deep ties to Kentucky. Memorably, Pope was a captain of the Kentucky team that won the National Championship in 1996. Pope began his collegiate career at Washington before transferring to UK for his final two seasons. As a senior, Pope averaged 7.6 PPG and made six starts.

“Mark Pope not only brings an impressive record in nine years as a head coach, but also a love of the University of Kentucky and a complete understanding of what our program means to the people of our state,” athletic director Mitch Barnhart said. “As a captain on the ’96 championship team, Mark was a beloved and respected teammate. As a head coach, he is highly regarded nationally as an innovator. His teams run a unique and dynamic up-tempo offense and they get after it on defense. He is a strong recruiter with international ties and a person of integrity. He fully embraces our high expectations and standards and I know that as our fans get reacquainted with Mark, they will be eager to join him on what promises to be an exciting ride.”

While at BYU, Pope led the Cougars to two NCAA Tournament appearances. This past season, BYU’s first year in the Big 12, the Cougars finished fifth in the conference.

“The University of Kentucky is the pinnacle of coaching in college basketball. It’s the definition of blue-blood program where hanging a banner is the expectation every year,” Pope said. “Equally as important, UK changed my life forever as a human being. The love and passion I have for this program, this university and the people of the commonwealth goes to the depth of my soul. I’m thankful to Dr. [Eli] Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart for this opportunity. I’m proud to be your next head coach and I can’t wait to do this together!”