By Eurohoops Team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Back in familiar surroundings following his stints at Panathinaikos and Greece’s senior national team, Rick Pitino moved from Iona to St. John’s.
Pitino, 70, inked a six-year contract, according to ESPN. Confirming the new head coach replacing Mike Anderson, the school stopped short of revealing further details.
The New York-born tactician worked in Greece for two years, including two separate spells as the play-caller for the Athens powerhouse, and also guided the country’s national team in the 2020 FIBA Victoria Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Back to college basketball, he took over the Gaels in 2020 and clinched two berths in the NCAA tournament over three years.
Per the press release: “One of the most successful coaches in the history of college basketball, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Rick Pitino has been named head coach of the St. John’s University men’s basketball program.
Pitino, who has coached two national championship teams and has taken three different programs to the Final Four, will be formally introduced on Tuesday at 12 p.m. in a press conference at Chase Square inside Madison Square Garden. Fans can watch the press conference live at RedStormSports.com.
During his 35 seasons as a collegiate head coach, Pitino has established a stellar reputation for excellence on the court and a dedication to student-athlete academic success. Pitino, who brings to Queens an 834-293 career head coaching record, has made 23 NCAA Tournament appearances with five different schools and advanced to the Final Four seven times, a total reached by only six coaches all-time.
“I am delighted to welcome Rick Pitino and his family to the St. John’s family,” said Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P., President of St. John’s University. “I am excited that this seasoned coaching veteran—who has won at the highest levels and is as passionate as ever— is committed to leading our student-athletes and our program to national prominence. Rick knows BIG EAST basketball and is determined to take and keep the Red Storm program where we know it belongs.”
“One of my great coaching memories was having the distinct privilege of coaching against Lou Carnesecca and St John’s, a Hall of Fame coach and historic program that I have always respected,” said Pitino. “It is surreal to now have this opportunity to bring St John’s back to prominence. I’m honored, humbled and grateful to Fr. Shanley, Bill Janetschek and Mike Cragg for making me feel so special.”
Pitino became the first coach to take three different schools to the Final Four and the first coach to win an NCAA Championship at two different schools. With a 54-21 record in the NCAA Tournament, Pitino holds the third-highest winning percentage in NCAA Tournament games (.720) among all active coaches. Off the court, he has served as a charitable benefactor for a broad spectrum of worthy causes, often choosing to do so anonymously.
Prior to leading Iona University to three-straight postseasons appearances with two trips to the NCAA Tournament, Pitino served as head coach of the University of Louisville (2001-2017, winning the 2013 NCAA Championship), University of Kentucky (1989-1997, winning the 1996 NCAA Championship), Providence College (1985-1987), Boston University (1978-1983) and Hawai’i (last six games 1975-76).
“We are thrilled to announce Hall of Fame coach and New York native Rick Pitino will lead our men’s basketball program into the next chapter of its long and storied history,” said St. John’s Director of Athletics Mike Cragg. “Coach Pitino is one of the most brilliant minds in the history of the game and has won at the highest levels everywhere he has coached. There is no doubt in my mind he will restore a championship-level program and culture for St. John’s Basketball.”
Pitino’s teams have won 14 tournament championships and he owns a collective 55-16 conference tournament record (.774). At Kentucky, his teams posted an incredible 17-1 Southeastern Conference (SEC) tournament mark. His coaching resume also features three BIG EAST Tournament titles while at Louisville in 2009, 2012 and 2013. In addition, Pitino has mentored 29 players who were drafted or have played in the NBA. His 1996 NCAA Championship team at Kentucky featured seven future NBA performers.
Pitino was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013, a tribute to a lifetime of impressive basketball achievement.
Over the last three seasons as head coach at Iona University, Pitino led the Gaels to a 64-22 overall record with a 40-9 mark in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). A two-time MAAC Coach of the Year, Pitino led the Gaels to a pair of MAAC regular season titles and two tournament championships. Iona made trips to the NCAA Tournament in 2021 and 2023, while earning a berth in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in 2022.
Pitino spent 16 seasons as head coach at Louisville and led the Cardinals to a 416-143 overall record from 2001-2017. While at Louisville, he took the Cards to the NCAA Tournament 13 times, making seven Sweet 16 appearances, six trips to the Elite Eight, three Final Fours and securing a National Championship. Louisville set a school record with 35 wins in its national championship campaign in 2012-13.
For three and a half years prior to Louisville, Pitino served as president and head coach of the NBA’s Boston Celtics. He also spent four years coaching the New York Knicks, beginning as an assistant coach under Hubie Brown from 1983-85 before returning to serve as head coach from 1987-89. During the 1988-89 season, the Knicks won 52 games and swept the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
From 1989-97, Pitino served as the head coach at Kentucky, guiding the Wildcats to three NCAA Final Four appearances in his last five years. The Wildcats posted a 219-50 overall record (.814) under Pitino, winning the 1996 NCAA Championship and reaching the national title game in 1997.
Pitino, 70, got his start in coaching as a graduate assistant at Hawai’i in 1974 and served as a full-time assistant there in 1975-76 when he served as the head coach for the last six games of the season. He served two seasons as an assistant coach at Syracuse from 1976-78, before earning his first head coaching job at Boston University in 1978. Pitino produced a 91-51 record in five years at BU, departing as the most successful coach in program history. In his final season, he guided the Terriers to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 24 years.
After his two years as an assistant with the New York Knicks, Pitino was the head coach at Providence College for two seasons from 1985-87, producing a 42-23 record with the Friars. He guided Providence to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 1986, followed by a trip to the Final Four in 1987.
Pitino also has international coaching experience, leading Puerto Rico’s national team in three 2015 summer competitions and Panathinaikos B.C. in the EuroLeague from 2018-20
Pitino is a 1974 graduate of Massachusetts, where he was a standout guard for the Minutemen’s basketball team.
Born Sept. 18, 1952, Pitino is a native of New York City and was team captain at St. Dominic High School in Oyster Bay, Long Island, lettering from 1966-70.
Pitino and his wife Joanne have five children, Michael, Christopher, Richard, Ryan and Jacqueline, and 14 grandchildren.”
Photo Credit: Getty Images