Chicken nugget mogul just changed the face of college basketball

Apr 12, 2024

Hall of Fame basketball coach John Calipari’s departure from Kentucky created a media frenzy.

But one of the reasons behind his surprising exit is mind-blowing.

And a chicken nugget mogul just changed the face of college basketball.

University of Kentucky basketball coach, John Calipari, was squarely on the hot seat after his team suffered a shocking upset to Oakland in the NCAA tournament.

The school’s passionate fanbase turned on him after he suffered another disappointing early exit from the tournament.

Rumors swirled about his future with the school, but Kentucky’s athletic director gave him a vote of confidence, which seemingly paved the way for him to return next season.

“As we normally do at the end of every season, Coach Calipari and I have had conversations about the direction of our men’s basketball program and I can confirm that he will return for his 16th season as our head coach,” Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart said last month.

Tyson Chicken billionaire behind Calipari’s departure from Kentucky

Arkansas unexpectedly lost its basketball coach Eric Musselman, who left to take the open job at the University of Southern California (USC).

College basketball’s coaching carousel began spinning.

In one of the most shocking moves in sports this year, John Calipari left Kentucky after 15 seasons to take the head coaching job at SEC rival Arkansas.

One of the figures credited in bringing in and making this surprising move happen is Tyson Foods chairman John Tyson.

Tyson is a billionaire who leads the Arkansas-based company that’s become the second-largest processor and disturber of beef, pork, and chicken in the country.

And he’s also the biggest donor to Arkansas’s athletics programs.

Tyson got the ball rolling by reaching out to Calipari’s agent Tom Mars – who graduated law school at Arkansas – and Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek.

The poultry billionaire already had a friendship with Calipari.

To close the deal, Tyson and the boosters for Arkansas offered the coach nearly limitless resources for the basketball program.

Calipari received a five-year contract that’s rumored to pay him around $7 million per year and the pool of money for name, image, and likeness (NIL) to lure top players is rumored to be around $6 million a season, one of the highest in the country.

The maneuverings of Tyson helped Arkansas land one of the most high-profile coaches in the country.

Kentucky radio show pranked with chicken nuggets

Tyson Foods sent a thank-you package to Kentucky Sports Radio (KSR) for the arrival of their new coach.

A box was sent to host (KRS) Matt Jones that contained Tyson gear and a package of the company’s famous dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets.

“Tyson Foods in Arkansas sent me food to celebrate Calipari,” Jones wrote on “To be fair, that’s solid trolling.”

“The fact that Tyson Foods sent @KySportsRadio, @ryanlemond, and @BillyRsports a box of Dino Nuggets and Arkansas t-shirts is hilarious,” KSR editor-in-chief Tyler Thompson wrote. “A+ trolling. Well done by their marketing team.”

One of the wildest coaching searches in college basketball in years was initiated by a chicken nugget mogul.

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