BYU coach Mark Pope closing in on a deal with Kentucky, one of college basketball’s biggest jobs

Pope could take a job with his alma mater in the “near future.”

(John Peterson | AP) BYU head coach Mark Pope watches as his team plays against Duquesne in the first half of a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2024, in Omaha, Neb.

Mark Pope could be on his way out of Provo.

The BYU head coach interviewed with Kentucky and is a serious candidate to replace John Calipari. The two sides are closing in on a deal, according to ESPN.

Pope played at Kentucky and won a national championship at the school in 1996. He was a captain under Rick Pitino and the two stayed close throughout Pope’s coaching career.

Pope got his first head coaching job at Utah Valley in 2016 and took over at BYU in 2020. He authored six, 20-win seasons and just took BYU to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years.

Kentucky cycled through several candidates before zeroing in on Pope. Baylor coach Scott Drew turned down the Kentucky job this week. So, too, did Alabama coach Nate Oats.

Pope’s resume is not as long as the two aforementioned coaches. Drew won a national title. Oats just went to the Final Four.

Pope has never won an NCAA Tournament game.

He has made the tournament twice as a coach. He would have made it a third time had COVID-19 not canceled the tournament in his first season.