Hall of Famer Rick Pitino, Iona Agree to Contract as Program’s New Head Coach

Adam Wells Joe Robbins/Getty Images @adamwells1985 Twitter Logo Featured Columnist

Rick Pitino is headed back to college basketball next season after telling his Greek team that he will be leaving when this Euroleague season ends.

Iona’s athletic director Matt Glovaski told CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein that Pitino will be hired as head coach. Adam Zagoria of the New York Times reported Pitino’s contract is for five years.

Per CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander, Pitino informed Panathinaikos players he would be leaving at the conclusion of this season.

“I’m incredibly excited,” Pitino said in a statement, per Rothstein. “I started my journey in basketball in Manhattan. I’m now able to end my journey in New Rochelle. I’ve admired the stellar job that Tim Cluess has done. I’m going to try and carry that on and elevate it to prominence.”

Euroleague officials suspended the season until further notice earlier this week amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

There were six weeks remaining in the regular season at the time of the suspension. Panathinaikos has a chance to make the playoffs if the season resumes. It sits in sixth place with a 14-14 record. The top eight teams in the standings advance to the postseason.

Tim Cluess stepped down as head coach at Iona on Friday, citing health concerns in a statement. He went 211-125 with six NCAA tournament appearances in 10 seasons with the Gaels. They finished this season 12-17, their first losing record since 2008-09 (12-19).

Pitino has been coaching Panathinaikos since December 2018. The 67-year-old was fired by Louisville in October 2017 for his role in the NCAA corruption scandal.

In 32 seasons as a college head coach, Pitino has a 647-271 record including four vacated seasons at Louisville from 2011-15 due to NCAA violations.