Rick Pitino named head coach of St. John’s, marking return to Big East

St. John’s University formally introduced Rick Pitino as head coach in a press conference on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 4:22 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 21, 2023 at 11:28 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Rick Pitino, Iona men’s basketball coach and former coach of both University of Louisville and University of Kentucky, has been named the next coach at St. John’s University.

Pitino will be returning to the Big East Conference following a 16-season run with the University of Louisville. The university formerly played in the conference before being invited into the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014.

St. John’s University announced Pitino’s hire on Monday afternoon, and will formally introduce the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Coach in a press conference at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday at noon.

“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,” St. John’s Director of Athletics Mike Cragg said in a 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.”

Terms of the deal have not been announced.

“Has [St. John’s basketball] fallen on tough times, yes it has, but now we’re ready to fall on great times,” Pitino said. “We’re ready to raise it up. Raise this roof up, because St. John’s is gonna be back. I guarantee it.”

Pitino teased his final season as coach of the Iona University men’s basketball team in a series of tweets on Monday afternoon.

“I’m not sad it ended,” Pitino said in a tweet. “I’m so grateful it happened.”

Pitino’s coaching career began back in 1974 as an assistant coach for the University of Hawaii. He coached several college and pro teams before joining as the head coach of University of Kentucky from 1989 to 1997 and then the University of Louisville from 2001 to 2017.

He is the only coach to have led three programs to the Final Four with Providence, Kentucky and Louisville, and won national titles with Kentucky and Louisville.