John Calipari Named 2024 John R. Wooden Award Legends of Coaching Recipient

John Calipari Named 2024 John R. Wooden Award Legends of Coaching Recipient

LOS ANGELES, CA (October 3, 2023) – John Calipari will receive the John R. Wooden Award “Legends of Coaching” honor in 2024. Coach Wooden’s grandson Greg Wooden was proud to announce his selection at the Los Angeles Athletic Club’s annual Wooden Award Tip-Off Luncheon. The event featured the head coaches from the Division I men’s basketball programs in Southern California. The “Legends of Coaching” honor recognizes coaches who exemplify Coach Wooden’s high standard of coaching success and personal integrity.

The “Legends of Coaching” award was adopted by the Wooden Award Steering Committee in 1999. The honorees are selected based on character, success on the court, graduation rate of student-athletes in their basketball program, coaching philosophy, and identification with the goals of the John R. Wooden Award. He will be presented the honor along with the 2024 Wooden Award winners on April 12, 2024.

Chairman of the Wooden Award Steering Committee Sam Lagana said, “Coach John Calipari has been a significant part of the Wooden Award experience, dating back to his first head coaching assignment at UMass.  He has supported the Award and stood with his candidates and winners every step of the way.  Coach Wooden had an appreciation for Coach Cal that carried through the years and Coach Calipari has demonstrated great reverence for Coach Wooden as both shared a ‘players first’ mentality, with emphasis on care for the student-athlete and in the value of competitive greatness.  John Calipari is a wonderful addition to the fraternity of Wooden Award ‘Legends of Coaching’ recipients.”

Coach Calipari’s head coaching career began at the University of Massachusetts, where he led the Minutemen to 5 consecutive Atlantic 10 Championships and participated in the first Wooden Classic in 1994.  After a brief stint with the New Jersey Nets, Coach returned to the college ranks, becoming the head coach of the Memphis Tigers, winning multiple Conference USA championships.  At the University of Kentucky, he took the Wildcats to four Final Fours in a five-year span, something that has only been accomplished at the men’s level by John Wooden and Mike Krzyzewski, winning the National Championship in 2012.  Coach Calipari has coached three different Wooden Award winners (Marcus Camby, ’96; Anthony Davis, ’12 & Oscar Tshiebwe, ’22) making him one of four coaches to have coached three different Wooden Award winners (Geno Auriemma, Krzyzewski and Dean Smith).  Coach was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2015.

Off the court, Coach Calipari’s impact has been felt in Lexington and abroad.  In 2012, he founded the John Calipari Foundation which has partnered with many organizations, including: Samaritan’s Feet, 4 Paws for Ability, One Parent Scholar House and Team Focus.  He has partnered with the American Red Cross to raise millions of dollars to help people affected by disasters such as the 2010 Haitian earthquake, 2012 Superstorm Sandy, and the 2022 flooding in Eastern Kentucky.  He helped spearhead the creation of the John McLendon Minority Leadership Initiative, a national coach-driven initiative to provide minorities with a jump-start to their careers.


John R. Wooden Award

Legends of Coaching Honorees


2024      John Calipari, Kentucky

2023      Dawn Staley, South Carolina

2022      Rick Byrd, Belmont

2021      Dave Yanai, Cal State Dominguez Hills/Los Angeles

2020      C. Vivian Stringer, Rutgers

2019      Lon Kruger, Oklahoma   

2018      Jay Wright, Villanova

2017      Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame

2016      Tubby Smith, Texas Tech

2015      Steve Fisher, San Diego State

2014      Tara VanDerveer, Stanford

2013      Bill Self, Kansas

2012      Geno Auriemma, Connecticut

2011      Tom Izzo, Michigan State

2010      Billy Donovan, Florida

2009      Rick Barnes, Texas

2008      Pat Summitt, Tennessee

2007      Gene Keady, Purdue

2006      Jim Boeheim, Syracuse

2005      Jim Calhoun, Connecticut

2004      Mike Montgomery, Stanford

2003      Roy Williams, Kansas

2002      Denny Crum, Louisville

2001      Lute Olson, Arizona

2000      Mike Krzyzewski, Duke

1999      Dean Smith, North Carolina


About the John R. Wooden Award

Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award Program hosts the most prestigious honors in college
basketball recognizing The Wooden Award Most Outstanding Player for men and women, The Wooden Award All America Teams for men and women and the annual selection of the Wooden Award Legend of Coaching recipient. Honorees have proven to their university that they meet or exceed the qualifications of the John R. Wooden Award as set forth by Coach Wooden and the Wooden Award Steering Committee, including making progress towards graduation and maintaining at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA. Previous winners include Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84), Tim Duncan (’97), Kevin Durant (’07), Candace Parker (’07; ’08), Maya Moore (’09; ’11), Breanna Stewart (’15; ’16), and last year’s recipients, Caitlin Clark of Iowa and Zach Edey of Purdue.

Since its inception, the John R. Wooden Award has contributed nearly one million dollars to the universities’ general scholarship fund in the names of the Wooden Award All American recipients and has sent more than 1,000 underprivileged children to week-long college basketball camps. Additionally, the John R. Wooden Award partners with the Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) each year to host the Wooden Award Special Olympics Southern California Basketball Tournament. The day-long tournament brings together Special Olympics athletes and Wooden Award All Americans and coaches in attendance. It is hosted at the Los Angeles Athletic Club during the John R. Wooden Award Weekend.

The Legends of Coaching Award will be presented along with the Wooden Award Men’s and Women’s Players of the Year on April 12, 2024. For up-to-date information on the Wooden Award, please go to and follow the Wooden Award on Facebook at and @WoodenAward on Twitter and Instagram.


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  • Chris Acker
    published this page in News & Media 2023-10-03 12:53:46 -0700