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Iona Hires Rick Pitino as New Men's Basketball Coach


Rick Pitino is leaving Euroleague to return to college basketball.

Iona has hired Pitino as its new coach, Gaels' athletic director Matt Glovaski told CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein.

The news comes shortly after CBS Sports' Matt Norlander reported Pitino informed his Panathinaikos B.C. players on Saturday that he planned to return to college hoops. According to Norlander, Pitino reportedly will finish out the Euroleague season if it resumes, and he has already returned to the U.S. to be with his family. The league suspended the season due to concerns over the coronavirus.

Norlander reported Pitino was considered the "leading candidate" at Iona after coach Tim Cluess stepped down this week due to health issues. Pitino was also tied to the coaching job at Grand Canyon.

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"I'm incredibly excited. I started my journey in basketball in Manhattan. I'm now able to end my journey in New Rochelle," Pitino told Rothstein. "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."

Pitino added, "I missed college basketball when I was in Greece. I'm back home where it all started. It's the greatest feeling in the world."

Before leaving for Greece, Pitino won NCAA titles at Kentucky and Louisville, reaching seven Final Fours and claiming conference titles in the Big East, SEC and ACC. His national title victory and two Final Four appearances at Louisville were vacated after a slew of scandals led to his firing in 2018.

Iona went 12–17 during the 2019-20 season to finish sixth in the MAAC.