Pitino back in game — at Iona

Former Louisville coach re­turns to col­lege ranks af­ter three years away

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - SCOREBOARD -

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — Hall of Famer Rick Pitino was named bas­ket­ball coach at Iona Col­lege on Satur­day.

Pitino coached at Louisville from 2001-17 be­fore be­ing fired in a pay-for-play scan­dal and had been coach­ing in Greece. He re­places Tim Cluess, who re­signed Friday due to health con­cerns af­ter 10 years and six NCAA Tour­na­ment ap­pear­ances.

“My pas­sion in bas­ket­ball started in New York and will end there at Iona Col­lege,” Pitino said in a state­ment re­leased by the Catholic school lo­cated north of New York City in sub­ur­ban Westch­ester County that has an un­der­grad­u­ate en­roll­ment of 3,300 stu­dents.

“Tim Cluess has done a spec­tac­u­lar job cre­at­ing suc­cess and a win­ning spirit,” Pitino added. “At Iona, I will work with the same pas­sion, hunger and drive that I’ve had for over 40 years.”

The 67-year-old Pitino has a 770-271 over­all record in col­lege and be­came the first coach to take three dif­fer­ent schools to the Fi­nal Four. He won na­tional cham­pi­onships at

Louisville (2013) and Ken­tucky (1996) and also went to the Fi­nal Four with Prov­i­dence in 1987.

Pitino coached twice in the NBA, with the Knicks (1987-89) and the Celtics (1997-2001), where he was also team pres­i­dent.

Last June, Pitino coached Panathi­naikos to the cham­pi­onship in the Greek League.

Iona Pres­i­dent Sea­mus Carey said “af­ter a thor­ough in­ter­view process we are con­fi­dent that Rick’s ex­pe­ri­ence and com­mit­ment to Iona and our com­mu­nity make him the right per­son to con­tinue to build on Tim Cluess’ suc­cess.”

Pitino’s re­turn to col­lege bas­ket­ball comes nearly six months af­ter he and Louisville set­tled law­suits stem­ming from his de­par­ture in the wake of a fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion of cor­rup­tion in col­lege bas­ket­ball.

The coach had sued the Univer­sity of Louisville Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion for more than $38.7 mil­lion in Novem­ber 2017, al­leg­ing its breached its con­tract by fir­ing him for cause the pre­vi­ous month. The school had coun­ter­sued and sought mon­e­tary dam­ages for va­cated games and bonuses. Pitino re­ceived no money in the set­tle­ment, with his per­son­nel file chang­ing from ter­mi­na­tion to a resignatio­n ef­fec­tive 13 days be­fore he was fired.

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