Rick Pitino accepts Saint John’s head coaching job


Photo courtesy of NY Post

The Saint John’s job is Pitino’s 11th full-time head coaching job in his career.  

Lachlan Wellington, Sports Editor

Rick Pitino’s time at the helm of the Iona men’s basketball team has come to an end after he resigned as the Gaels’ head coach. He has accepted a reported six-year, around $20 million contract at Saint John’s University, according to CBS.  


Pitino accepted the Saint John’s job offer after the Red Storm fired previous head coach, Mike Anderson, on March 10, 2023 after they were knocked out of the Big East tournament by Marquette University and did not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

Anderson failed to make the NCAA tournament for the last four years, with the Red Storm’s last appearance coming back in the 2019-2020 season.

While at Iona, Pitino won two out of three Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championships as the Gaels qualified for the NCAA tournament twice, losing in the first round on both occasions against the University of Alabama (55-68) and University of Connecticut (63-87).

Pitino was exonerated in November 2022 by the NCAA Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP) panel who were investigating alleged recruiting violations stemming from his time at Louisville relating to a former five-star recruit.  


The Hall of Fame coach joined the Gaels from Greek Basketball and EuroLeague side Panathinaikos back in 2020, where he spent two years after the Louisville University basketball scandal.

The job at Saint John’s is a homecoming for Pitino to the Big East Conference where he began his journey as a head coach at Boston University back in 1978. Previously, he served as an assistant at Hawaii- where he spent time as an interim head coach- and Syracuse University.  


The Saint John’s University head coach role is Pitino’s 12th head coaching job and 15th coaching role at the NCAA or NBA level. Pitino, a hall of fame coach, was the first coach to lead three different schools (Providence, Kentucky and Louisville) to the final four of the NCAA tournament and is the only coach to win a national NCAA championship with two different schools- Kentucky and Louisville.

Pitino came to Iona at a critical time for the program, they had just been knocked out of the MAAC championships and failed to win the tournament for the first time in five years. The COVID-19 pandemic meant that the MAAC tournament was shut down and all NCAA sports and a lot of things around the world were paused.  


Pitino brought back Iona to MAAC success immediately. In his first season with the Gaels, Pitino led the team to the MAAC championship during the shortened 2020-2021 season, before the Gaels existed to the number nine seed Rider University in the quarterfinals of the 2021-2022 MAAC tournament.  


The 2022-2023 basketball season, which ended up being Pitino’s last for the Gaels, saw them once again win the MAAC title, but they were knocked out by the University of Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA tournament.  


Pitino did a lot for the school to restore success after Tim Cluess left a lasting legacy on the school, but Iona also helped Pitino out after the Louisville scandal as they gave him his first job in the NCAA since the recruiting inquest.