Iona head coach Rick Pitino is changing jobs but not cities, agreeing to be the new head coach at St. John’s in the Big East. The legendary coach has been back in college basketball for three years and has been subject to much speculation that he was ready to make his move back to the P5 world. He went 64-22 with the Gaels, winning two MAAC titles and going to the NCAA Tournament in both 2021 and 2023.
“We are thrilled to announce Hall of Fame coach and New York native Rick Pitino will lead our men’s basketball program into the next chapter of its long and storied history,” AD Mike Cragg said in a statement. “Coach Pitino is one of the most brilliant minds in the history of the game and has won at the highest levels everywhere he has coached. There is no doubt in my mind he will restore a championship-level program and culture for St. John’s Basketball.”
Pitino is of course best known for his tenures at Kentucky and Louisville, winning national championships at both but the latter (2013) being vacated by the NCAA. That is what drove Pitino out of college basketball and eventually overseas to coach in Greece, but his time away was brief. He returned to his hometown of New York City in 2020 to take over at Iona and has been a key figure on the coaching carousel ever since.
“One of my great coaching memories was having the distinct privilege of coaching against Lou Carnesecca and St John’s, a Hall of Fame coach and historic program that I have always respected,” Pitino said. “It is surreal to now have this opportunity to bring St John’s back to prominence. I’m honored, humbled and grateful to Fr. Shanley, Bill Janetschek and Mike Cragg for making me feel so special.”
St. John’s parted ways with Mike Anderson earlier this month after four seasons without any NCAA Tournament appearances. Anderson is now suing the school for money owed as a result of his termination. The Red Storm last played in the Big Dance in 2019 but have not reached the Sweet Sixteen since 1999.
credit to St. John’s Athletics for the image