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HomeNewsRick Pitino will leave Iona to become a coach at St. John's

Rick Pitino will leave Iona to become a coach at St. John’s


Rick Pitino will become the new men’s basketball coach at St. John’s, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The person spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the school had not yet made the announcement. Pitino is expected to be formally introduced by St. John’s during a press conference Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

The move puts the Hall of Fame coach back in the Big East Conference, seeking to jumpstart a storied St. John program that has been mired in mediocrity for much of this century.

Following a successful career at nearby mid-major Iona, the 70-year-old Pitino was selected to replace Mike Anderson, who was fired on March 10 after four seasons in charge of the Red Storm without reaching the NCAA tournament. .

Reports quickly surfaced that St. John’s planned to target Pitino, who grew up on Long Island, not far from the school’s Queens campus in New York City.

Pitino has been to seven Final Fours and won a pair of NCAA championships, one at Kentucky (1996) and one at Louisville (2013).

He was fired in Louisville in 2017 after an FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball led to allegations of NCAA violations. It was the third scandal, professional and personal, in an eight-year stint with the Cardinals, but Pitino was ultimately exonerated in the FBI-related case.

Pitino has a .740 winning percentage in 34 full seasons as a college basketball coach. He has guided five schools to the NCAA tournament, including Boston University (1983) and Iona (2021, 2023).

He led an amazing Providence team to a memorable run to the 1987 Final Four, but the 2013 national title Pitino won in Louisville (then in the Big East) was later vacated by the NCAA after an investigation found that an assistant trainer paid escorts and exotic dancers. to entertain players and recruits in campus dormitories.

After two years coaching in Greece, he landed the job at Iona, a small private Catholic school located in New Rochelle, just north of New York City.

Pitino went 64-22 in three years with the Gaels, guiding them to two regular-season titles in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and a pair of NCAA tournament appearances. Seeded 13th this year, they led No. 4 seed UConn at halftime before being eliminated in the first round with an 87-63 loss that snapped a 14-fight winning streak.

Before the game, Pitino said he hopes to coach for 12 more years.

“But I’ll take six or seven,” he said.

He said it would take “a special place” for him to consider leaving Iona, but he also spoke about how much he admired St. John’s president, the Rev. Brian Shanley, who previously worked in Providence.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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