The sports world has been hit hard due to the Coronavirus. That includes the NCAA, who has canceled all conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament. March isn’t the same without those events but there has been some news that gets us talking about basketball. Former Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who last coached in 2017, agreed to a deal that would make him the next head coach of Iona basketball. This is a major headline just 48 hours removed from the cancellation of March Madness. It’ll be an interesting story to follow as the year moves along.
Rick Pitino Lands A Job With Iona Basketball
Huge news has come out of the college basketball world as the former Louisville coach has agreed to terms with Iona to be the next head coach. Pitino has been in the game for a long time, whether it’s the NCAA, NBA, or overseas.
Pitino started his coaching career in the 1975-76 season with Hawaii. He was a graduate assistant in 1974 before becoming a full-time assistant in 1975, the same year he stepped in as the interim head coach. Pitino’s first real head coaching job was with Boston University from 1978-1983. After that, he went to the NBA to be an assistant coach for the New York Knicks before returning to college to be the head coach of Providence from 1985-87. He left for the NBA again and this time became head coach for the Knicks for two years before returning once again to the college game.
In his return, he became head coach for Kentucky for eight years from 1989-97. Pitino yet again left college to go pro. He became head coach of the Boston Celtics from 1997-2001. After going under .500 with Boston, he yet again returned to college. This time, to Louisville from 2001-2017. Patino got into some trouble as the school was investigated for the “pay for play” scandal. The scandal was Adidas agreeing to pay $100,000 to the family of a recruit and that player would represent the brand when he turned pro. Louisville places Patino on administrative leave and soon fired him.
In 2018, he continued his coaching career as he became head coach of Panathinaikos of the EuroLeague. He transformed that team as he did so many other schools. He also coached a few national teams in his career, including Peurto Rico and Greece.
During his coaching career in college, he’s only had one season under .500. He’s also only had two seasons that he had a winning percentage under .600. Pitino won a national championship with Kentucky and Louisville (vacated) and made it to seven final fours (three vacated). He’s 647-271 in his college career. He’s turned schools around and even led a team to the NCAA tournament after only winning 17 games in two seasons. Pitino is still a very good coach and now he gets another opportunity, this time for Iona.
After all that has happened over the past several days, Pitino coming back to college gives us something else to discuss in the sports world. No matter what you think of him, his passion for the game is like no other. Pitino said, “My passion in basketball started in New York and it will end here at Iona College.” He also stated that while at Iona, he will “work with the same passion, hunger and drive that I’ve had for over forty years.”
It’ll be interesting to see him back and see what he can bring to Iona basketball.