If you believe Iona coach Rick Pitino, the only Pitino who will be changing jobs this year is his son Richard.
The elder Pitino stated emphatically during a news conference Tuesday previewing Iona’s first-round NCAA Tournament matchup with No. 2 seed Alabama that he wouldn’t consider any other coaching jobs and planned to make Iona his last stop.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “If I go anywhere, it’s retirement, and I don’t plan on retiring anytime soon.”
There had been immediate speculation Monday linking Pitino with the opening at Indiana after Archie Miller was fired. Though Pitino called Indiana one of the premier coaching jobs in college basketball, he said he wasn’t interested.
Rick Pitino has the Iona Gaels in the NCAA Tournament in his first season as coach. (Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News via Imagn Content Services, LLC)
“You could come to me with the greatest job on earth, and I would not consider it,” he said. “I came home to coach and end my career at a small, Catholic school. I’m looking forward to building a special program at Iona.”
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Pitino said he owed Iona president Seamus Carey and school officials “everything,” recalling how Carey flew to Madrid last year to meet with him while Pitino was coaching in exile from college basketball, leading the Greek club Panathinaikos. After a series of scandals led to Pitino’s departure from Louisville in 2017, Iona was the only program willing to give him a shot.
It paid off with the Gaels winning the MAAC title last weekend and earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Pitino’s proclamation that he would remain at Iona came on the same day his son accepted the coaching job at New Mexico. Minnesota fired Richard Pitino on Monday after eight seasons, but he quickly landed on his feet at one of the premier programs in the Mountain West Conference.
New Mexico athletics director Eddie Nunez was a former basketball player and graduate assistant at Florida under Billy Donovan, who played for Rick Pitino at Providence College.
“I’m elated,” Rick Pitino said. "He’s more like Billy Donovan than he is me. He’s a class young man. He handled his firing with dignity and class. He handled his eight years at Minnesota with tremendous dignity and class.
"I’m super excited because the athletic director there is linked to Billy Donovan, and he’s a special AD, and it’s really a dynamic duo. I know he’s going to do big things at New Mexico. I’ve had over 30 assistants go on to become head coaches, and he’s as good as any of them. I’m real proud of him.”
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