It’s been about two and a half years since Louisville placed Pitino on an administrative leave that would later turn into a firing with cause. Numerous scandals within the program cost Louisville the 2013 NCAA Championship, but the final blow was the school’s involvement in the Adidas/FBI investigation that rocked the college basketball world in 2017.
This will be the seventh Division I head coaching job for Pitino, who started out at Hawaii in the mid-70s but is most well-known for his tenures at Kentucky and Louisville. His official records as of now are 647 wins, 10 conference titles, 17 NCAA Tournament appearances, 5 Final Fours and 1 National Championship (with UK in 1996).
Raised on Long Island, Pitino will coach a team in home state for the first time since he left the New York Knicks in May 1989. This is also the first mid-major job for Pitino since he coached Boston University from 1978-83.
Former Iona head coach Tim Cluess stepped down this week to focus on his health and take a different role at the school. The Gaels were coached by Tra Arnold this past season in Cluess’ absence, going 12-16 (9-11). Before that, he led the team to four-straight NCAA Tournaments and won a total of four MAAC titles in nine seasons at the helm.
On paper, this seems like a great fit for both parties: Iona gets a Hall of Fame coach with local ties and about all the buzz you could hope for when making a hire, while Pitino gets to return to the college game, coach in his hometown and not have all the pressure that a major conference program might have. If things work out, Pitino could have Iona back to running the MAAC table in no time.
credit to Dylan Buell/Getty for the photo