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Head coach Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls looks on as we look at the latest Kentucky next coach odds, with Donovan as the betting favorite.
Head coach Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls looks on against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half at the United Center on February 28, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images via AFP.

After John Calipari left Kentucky to become the head coach at Arkansas, we're looking at the latest Kentucky next coach odds with Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan and UConn coach Dan Hurley as the early favorites.

Editor's note (Thursday at 9:35 p.m. ET): Kentucky is reportedly targeting BYU head coach Mark Pope for the same role, and a deal is expected to be done in the near future.

Even after Kentucky was knocked out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats still found their way into the headlines in the final hours of March Madness. And the search for their next head coach is the biggest story in college basketball.

John Calipari, who coached Kentucky to one national title in his 15 years at the helm, announced via social media Tuesday that he'll be stepping down as head coach. That came before he officially signed a five-year deal with Arkansas starting at $7 million per year to take over as the head coach, which the school announced Wednesday.

Baylor's Scott Drew was priced as the clear favorite (+100) earlier this week, as he's one of the top coaches in college basketball and has a prior relationship with Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart. After he publicly declared his intent to remain with Baylor on Thursday, though, it's anyone's guess who might fill the biggest vacancy in college sports.

Here's a look at the latest betting odds for Kentucky's next head coach, including the early favorites and some potential long shots to watch for.

We also highlighted Kentucky and Arkansas among our favorite title bets for next season in our 2025 March Madness odds and predictions.

Kentucky next coach odds

CoachOddsImplied probability
Billy Donovan+15040.00%
Dan Hurley+17536.36%
Mark Pope+12007.69%
Richard Pitino+18005.26%
Chris Beard+22004.35%
Rick Pitino+25003.85%
Sean Miller+25003.85%
Nate Oats+25003.85%
Kelvin Sampson+25003.85%
Shaka Smart+25003.85%

Other candidates:

  • Jamie Dixon (+2500)
  • Scott Padgett (+2500)
  • Jay Wright (+3000)
  • Bruce Pearl (+3000)
  • T.J. Otzelberger (+3000)
  • Will Wade (+3000)
  • Anfernee Hardaway (+3000)
  • Darvin Ham (+5000)
  • Frank Vogel (+5000)

Favorites to be next Kentucky coach

Billy Donovan (+150)

The moment news broke that Calipari was likely headed to Arkansas, Donovan's name was among the first mentioned by anyone speculating on the caliber of coach that could fill this vacancy. And now that Drew has turned down the job, the current Chicago Bulls coach is officially the betting favorite for the position.

Donovan began his coaching career as an assistant for Kentucky from 1989-94, and he has SEC head coaching experience from his two decades at Florida (1996-2015), where he won back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007. That said, he willingly left that job to coach in the NBA, where he's remained for the last nine years.

If Donovan wants the Kentucky gig, he'd clearly be on a short list of desired candidates for Barnhart. The bigger question is whether the biggest job in college is better than one of 30 head-coaching jobs in the Association.

Dan Hurley (+175)

After Drew's refusal on Thursday, early reports suggest that Hurley has become the top focus for Kentucky. That comes even as the two-time reigning national championship coach has publicly refuted any interest in leaving UConn.

As such, you can probably save your money and avoid betting on Hurley at such short odds. Still, it's fun to speculate on whether Hurley - who said Monday he wants to oversee "a dynasty in modern times" with the Huskies - would be compelled to lead the biggest brand in college basketball to its first title in over a decade after reviving UConn's storied program over the last six seasons.

At this point, the answer seems to be a resounding "no," though crazier things have happened when money and power are involved.

Long shots to be next Kentucky coach

Mark Pope (+1200)

We highlighted Pope earlier in the week, when Drew seemed like a "lock" to become the next head coach - according to the betting market, anyway. Now that the Baylor coach is out of the picture, these odds are curiously even longer than they were before.

One of the few coaches on this list with prior connections to Kentucky, Pope was a key member of the 1996 Wildcats - arguably the best team in program history - and has since enjoyed a successful run as the head coach at Utah Valley (2015-19) and BYU (2019-24).

In a statement Tuesday, Barnhart said the school was working to hire a "proven, highly dedicated coach who embraces the importance of this program to our fans and the state of Kentucky." Pope certainly seems to fit the latter, though his lack of success at a big-time program could preclude his candidacy this time around.

Rick Pitino (+2500)

This couldn't happen ... right? Pitino remains one of the most successful coaches in the history of Kentucky basketball, but his myriad scandals and recent move to St. John's suggest that the 72-year-old coach isn't headed back to his old post anytime soon.

It seems that any early steam for this reunion has cooled in recent days, but it's still hard to ignore the appeal of Kentucky turning back the clock to restore a title-winning culture for the program - especially with Pitino speaking wistfully about his time in Lexington any chance he gets. At long odds, there are worse bets to make.

Bruce Pearl (+3000)

Speaking of high-profile coaches with questionable records off the court, Pearl would be another high-upside swing for Kentucky brass if it wants to get back into the championship picture in the immediate future.

Pearl hasn't exactly been the NCAA's best friend over the years, but the longtime college coach has proven to be one of the game's best program-builders after successful runs at Tennessee and Auburn. Pearl knows the SEC and has the pedigree and persona to handle the biggest job in the sport ... if he gets the call.

Kentucky head coach FAQs

Who is the favorite to be Kentucky's next coach?

Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan is the betting favorite (+150) to take over as the next head coach for the Kentucky Wildcats. Those odds imply a 40% chance that Donovan - who began his career as an assistant at Kentucky (1989-94) - is the next coach for the Wildcats, though that likely overstates the possibility of such a hire given how volatile the coaching search has already proven to be.

When did Kentucky win its last national title?

John Calipari led the Kentucky Wildcats to a national championship in 2012, led by eventual No. 1 pick Anthony Davis. That was the lone title run in Calipari's 15 years at Kentucky.

When will Kentucky hire its next head coach?

With a job as big as this one, it's anyone's guess when Kentucky will settle on its next head coach. That said, with the transfer portal dictating the college basketball offseason more than ever, expect the hire to be made sooner rather than later.

Here are our best March Madness betting sites:

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* Bonuses not applicable in Ontario.

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