Mark Pope is a candidate for the open head coaching job at the University of Kentucky, CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein reported Thursday afternoon.

Pope, a former Wildcat player, had been floated as a potential candidate for Kentucky following John Calipari’s departure for Arkansas, but Rothstein’s report is the first real confirmation that Pope is being considered for the job.

The news comes following multiple notable coaches — and prospective candidates — reaffirmed their commitment to their current programs, including Alabama’s Nate Oats and Baylor’s Scott Drew.

Oats made his commitment to Alabama known on Monday, with a social media post, expressing a desire to win a national championship in Tuscaloosa.

On Thursday, Drew made a similar declaration on social media, noting his belief that God called him and his family to work at Baylor.

Former Villanova head coach Jay Wright, now a CBS Sports analyst, also made it known that he doesn’t have interest in the job, saying on TNT ahead of the national championship game on Monday, “I am so happy doing this. I’m telling you this right now, I love doing this. I like being Kenny (Smith)’s coach. Even though I’m not (Charles Barkley’s) coach yet. I haven’t earned that. I’ve haven’t earned that yet. But I love being Kenny’s coach.”

Wright added: “The guy that replaces (Calipari) is going to be in a really difficult position to cover all the areas of college basketball. He’s a college basketball genius. What he did in recruiting, and bringing in all those pros, and all those guys that come back to Kentucky, makes that program as strong as ever.”

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Other prospective candidates include Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan, whose team is currently No. 9 in the Eastern Conference and slated to play in at least one postseason play-in game next week. There is also UConn head coach Dan Hurley, now a back-to-back national champion, though multiple reports have indicated that Hurley has no desire and/or intention of leaving UConn any time soon.

All of which leads back to Pope.

The Cougars’ head coach was a semifinalist for the Naismith Men’s Coach of the Year award this season, after BYU exceeded all expectations and was a winning program in its first year in the Big 12, ultimately landing a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

As a former Wildcat under Rick Pitino, Pope has clear ties to Lexington and the Kentucky program.

Pope has gone 110-52 in five seasons with the Cougars — since making the move from Utah Valley University — including 23-11 this past season. He is currently under contract at BYU through the 2026-27 season.

There has been skepticism about Pope as a candidate, due in large part to a lack of success in the NCAA Tournament. In nine seasons as a Division I head coach, Pope has been to the tournament twice, losing in the first round both times.

With notable candidates removing themselves from consideration, though, it would seem Pope has a shot at returning to Kentucky.