Iona hires Rick Pitino as men’s basketball head coach

By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher

Rick Pitino is back in college basketball. One day after the Iona Gaels saw their head coach step away, they have a new head coach once again.

The veteran coach has been out of the game since September 2017 when he was dismissed due to another scandal with the Louisville Cardinals. He replaces Tim Cluess, who stepped down on Friday.

Basketball
Basketball (Photo by Pixabay.com)

Pitino – a very successful coach – was played on leave by the Cardinals on September 27, 2017 after the federal prosecutors said that the school was involved in a “pay for play” allegations that rocked college basketball at the time. He was then placed on unpaid leave, before he was fired for cause on October 16, 2017.

He has been coaching Panathinaikos B.C., also known as Panathinaikos or Panathinaikos B.C. OPAP, in Athens, Greece since December 2018-2019 and this current 2019-20 season. Presently, he has guided the team to a 14-14.

On March 12th, the EuroLeague announced the suspension of their league operations due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Pitino takes over a program that went 12-17. The team went 9-11 in the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference play

He is also taking over a program that went 17-16 during the 2018-19 season. While the team had a bad win-loss record, they actually went 12-6 in conference play.

In fact, they won the MAAC Tournament for the fourth-time when they defeated Monmouth, 81-60, to win the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, also known as the NCAA March Madness Tournament.

Despite receiving their conference bid, they received the 16th seed in the Midwest region. They were eliminated by the No. 1 seed North Carolina Tar Heels in their 88-73 win.

As a college coach, Pitino has a 770-271 record in 1,041 games. He has won 74% of his games with the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors, Boston Terriers, Providence Friars, Kentucky Wildcats, and the Cardinals. The 67-year-old has won the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship twice.

However, the 2013 Championship was later vacated by the NCAA. This win, including every one during the 2012-13 season was vacated during the NCAA’s investigation into a “sex-for-play” scandal.

When the NCAA stripped Louisville of the Championship, it was the first-time that the school had a championship stripped for any reason.

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