Big 12 News

BYU’s Mark Pope a Candidate for Kentucky Job: Report

Dec 9, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Brigham Young Cougars head coach Mark Pope looks on in the game against the Utah Utes during the first half at Jon M. Huntsman Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Just hours after Baylor head coach Scott Drew turned down an offer to fill the head coaching vacancy at Kentucky, another Big 12 coach has emerged as a candidate for the job.

According to a report from Jon Rothstein, BYU head coach Mark Pope is a candidate for the job as the Wildcats begin to expand their search to replace John Calipari.

Calipari resigned from his role with the Wildcats after 15 seasons and promptly became the head coach at Arkansas earlier this week.

 

Now, in the aftermath of such a momentous shift in the college basketball coaching landscape, several Big 12 programs are hoping they can do what it takes to keep their head coaches in place.

That might be easier said than done with Pope, though, as this wouldn’t just be a chance to take over one of the most prestigious programs in basketball; it would also allow him to become the head coach at his alma mater.

Pope, who took over the BYU program in 2019, was a member of the Wildcats’ 1996 national championship team. From there, Pope went on to be a second-round selection in the NBA Draft before playing nine years professionally.

 

In 2009, Pope began his coaching career as an assistant at Georgia and then spent another season as an assistant with Wake Forest (2010-11). Then, he took an assistant job with BYU (2011-15) before assuming the head coaching gig at Utah Valley in 2015. He remained with the Wolverines until taking the BYU job in 2019, where he now has a record of 110-52 (.679).

In 2023-24, Pope led the Cougars to a 23-11 record and a fifth-place finish in the Big 12. BYU was bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by an upstart Duquesne team, but the season was a massive success nonetheless.

Now, BYU will have to do what it can to keep Pope in the right shade of blue, as UK has their sights set on their second Big 12 coach in as many days.

Since Calipari left, Kentucky has taken a hard look at Scott Drew and UConn’s Dan Hurley, but both coaches made it known that they’ll be staying put. Chicago Bulls’ head coach Billy Donovan is reportedly on the short list of candidates, but it appears Mark Pope is the name to know right now as Kentucky searches for the right fit for its future.

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