USA TODAY International Edition
Pitino heads back to Big East
St. John’s and Georgetown filled their men’s basketball head coaching vacancies Monday.
● Basketball Hall of Famer Rick Pitino will be St. John’s next coach, the school announced. The deal is for six years, according to ESPN.
“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,” athletic director Mike Cragg said in a news release. “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, 70, spent the past three seasons as coach at Iona. The Gaels won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in 2021 and 2023 with Pitino being named conference coach of the year in 2022 and 2023. Iona lost to Connecticut in the 2023 NCAA Tournament first round.
The veteran coach is perhaps best known for his 2001- 17 stint at Louisville and for winning a national championship with the Cardinals in 2013. Pitino also won a national championship as Kentucky’s head coach in 1996. Pitino left Louisville after a recruiting scandal but was later cleared of any wrongdoing by the NCAA.
Following the departure and prior to joining Iona, Pitino coached for Panathinaikos, a professional basketball team based in Athens, Greece. Pitino also coached for the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics.
● Ed Cooley, who has resurrected Providence College into a regular NCAA Tournament participant, is moving to Big East rival Georgetown, the school announced.
Cooley, 53, replaces Patrick Ewing, Georgetown’s most famous basketball alumnus whom the school fired after the Big East Tournament.
Cooley was 242- 153 in 12 seasons at Providence, reaching the NCAA Tournament seven times in the last nine years it was held. The Friars went 21- 12 this season, losing to Kentucky in the tournament’s first round. The Friars went to the Sweet 16 last season after winning the Big East regular- season title.
Cooley has been linked to the Georgetown opening since Ewing was let go March 9. He emerged as the front- runner on the strength of his ties to legendary Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr. Cooley is a Providence native but grew up rooting for Thompson and the Hoyas. Thompson played at Providence.
Georgetown won a Big East Tournament title in 2021 under Ewing.