Rick Pitino has returned to college basketball as he has been hired by Iona.
The Hall of Famer has agreed to a deal to become the next head coach at Iona. Tim Cluess, who had spent ten seasons with the Gaels, announced that he was stepping down from the position due to health reasons on Friday. He had won either the regular season or the conference tournament title every year from 2012-2019.
“My passion in basketball started in New York,” Rick Pitino said, “and will end there at Iona College.”
Pitino has spent the past two seasons coaching the Greek club Panathinaikos. He won a Greek Cup as well as his league championship.
Pitino has not coached in the collegiate ranks since October of 2017, when he was fired by Louisville as a result of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball. No one from the program was arrested, but the FBI’s investigation determined that Adidas had agreed to pay the family of Brian Bowen, a five-star prospect, $100,000 to become a Cardinal.
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The allegations also cost athletic director Tom Jurich his job. To date, Pitino and Louisville have not yet received a punishment from the NCAA for their role in the scandal.
Pitino was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2013, after he won his second national title. The second came as the head coach at Louisville, but the title was vacated due to a scandal that involved stripper and escorts being brought into the basketball dorm for members of the team as well as recruits on official visits. His first title came as the head coach at Kentucky. He has been to seven total Final Fours -- two of them have been vacated -- and he is the only head coach to win a title at two different schools at the Division I level.
And now he is back.
Rick Pitino is coaching at Iona.
March Madness, indeed.