Rick Pitino will make his return to college basketball as the new head coach of the Iona Gaels, according to a school announcement on Saturday. Pitino was fired by Louisville in October of 2017 following an FBI investigation into an alleged "pay for play" involving Cardinal recruiting.
Five-star prospect Brian Bowen was in the middle of the allegations, which claimed that Adidas paid $100,000 to the family to help sway him to Louisville. After being put on administrative leave, both Pitino and athletics director Tom Jurich were fired by the University.
Pitino comes to Iona with multiple national championships under his belt. He captured his first title in 1996 at the University of Kentucky. The second came with Louisville in 2013, though that was later vacated by the NCAA for an entirely different scandal involving strippers and sex parties.
To say that his career has been marked by controversy would be a vast understatement. Still, Pitino's biggest regret has nothing to do with the strippers, scandals, or controversy:
Rick Pitino: "My biggest regret in coaching was leaving Providence College. They were two magical years in my life. It was a small Catholic school with a small gym I loved so much. I'm going back to a similar situation. I know I'll love it equally the same." #icmbb— Zach Braziller (@NYPost_Brazille) March 14, 2020
In addition to his time at the collegiate level, Pitino spent time in the NBA as he was the Knicks head coach in the late 80's and more recently was with the Celtics from 1997 until 2001. His career NBA winning percentage is less than .500, which is a far cry from what he's done as a college coach.
Following his termination at Louisville, Pitino headed to Greece where he took over and led Panathinaikos to the Greek Cup and Greek League Basketball Championship in 2019. He'll now look to lead the Gaels in New Rochelle, New York.
Iona finished sixth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and is coming off a 12-17 season. The Gaels previously made four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 2016 through 2019. His son, Richard Pitino, has been the head coach at Minnesota dating back to 2013.