Rick Pitino's college basketball coaching comeback will be made in his native New York.
Pitino, the only coach to lead three different schools to the Final Four, was fired as University of Louisville head coach in September 2017 after he was implicated in a federal investigation involving bribes to recruits.
On Saturday, March 14, a day after announcing 10-year coach Tim Clueless had resigned due to health reasons, Iona College in New Rochelle has named Pitino as its new head coach.
Pitino, a New York City native who attended high school on Long Island at St. Dominic in Oyster Bay, lived in Northern Westchester, in Bedford, when he coached the Knicks for two years from 1987 to '89.
"My passion in basketball started in New York and will end there at Iona College," the 67-year-old Pitino said. "Tim Cluess has done a spectacular job creating success and a winning spirit. I wish Tim a speedy recovery and Iona will always cherish his accomplishments.
"At Iona, I will work with the same passion, hunger and drive that I’ve had for over 40 years.
"There is a real professionalism in how things are run here and this is a very tight, strong community.
"The priority in New Rochelle right now is helping students continue their education online in light of the coronavirus and I very much look forward to the day when the community is back on campus and to get to work on further elevating this strong program."
Said Iona College Director of Athletics Matthew Glovaski: "Rick is a Hall of Fame coach who has won at the highest levels and he is committed to leading our student-athletes and our program to national prominence.
"He brings passion and energy and shares our desire to build a winning program that will make our community proud."
Iona President Seamus Carey said the college conducted a thorough interview process before making the decision.
"We are confident that Rick’s experience and commitment to Iona and our community make him the right person to continue to build on Tim Cluess’ success," Carey said. "We welcome Rick and his family to New Rochelle and look forward to accomplishing big things together."
During Pitino’s 32 seasons as a collegiate head coach, he:
- Has a 770-271 overall record and a 54-19 record in the NCAA Tournament;
- Became the first coach to win an NCAA championship at two different schools;
- Has the third-highest winning percentage in NCAA Tournament games (.740) among all active coaches
"I have known Rick and his family for over 20 years," Iona Trustee Bob LaPenta said, "and he is without question one of college basketball’s greatest head coaches having won national NCAA championships at the University of Kentucky, and University of Louisville. He will bring Iona’s already highly regarded program to another level locally and nationally."
The three different schools Pitino led to the Final Four are Providence, Kentucky and Louisville.
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