Calipari tours Raleigh campus with assistant coaches
Coach John Calipari, who has been in negotiations with Memphis about increasing the value of his current contract, visited North Carolina State with his staff Monday, a source close to Calipari told ESPN.com.
A source at NC State confirmed to ESPN.com that Calipari and his staff were in Raleigh late Monday. An offer is on the table and Calipari will likely decide within the next two days if he will accept the job.
The source close to the coach said Calipari and his staff boarded a private jet to Raleigh on Monday afternoon to look at the Wolfpack's facilities. Later in the day, the source was told that the coach and his assistants were touring NC State's campus and were planning to fly back to Memphis on Monday night.
NC State officials began wooing Calipari by visiting with the Memphis coach Sunday night, The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. NC State is making a strong push for Calipari now that it has been rebuffed by Texas coach Rick Barnes, who reportedly will receive a sizable raise.
The meeting, which included NC State Chancellor James L. Oblinger, athletic director Lee Fowler and other university officials, lasted for about two hours, the paper reported.
"We were aware of the meeting," Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson told the paper Sunday night. But beyond that, he declined comment while continuing to attempt to rework the contract of Calipari.
Fowler, who once worked for Dana Kirk at Memphis, has strong ties to the area and has had intermediaries working Calipari for weeks.
If Calipari takes the NC State job, this would go against what he told ESPN.com last week. When directly asked if he would be interested in replacing Herb Sendek (who left the program for Arizona State), Calipari said "no." He said he wouldn't want to put himself in the position of dealing with all that goes into coaching within the Triangle alongside Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and North Carolina's Roy Williams. Calipari is the king of Conference USA and essentially rules that conference; the Tigers are its marquee program.
But taking a trip to Raleigh certainly is a bold move that shows he could be ready to take the job. Memphis is doing whatever it can to match NC State's offer. NC State reportedly offered Barnes a deal worth more than $2 million per year.
If Calipari is not interested in coaching NC State, then the Wolfpack are expected to turn to LSU's John Brady. If Calipari leaves, look for Memphis to seriously consider Colorado's Ricardo Patton, a native of the area who retains strong ties to the region.
Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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