NEW YORK — Rick Pitino is back in the Big East Conference.
St. John’s hired the Hall of Fame coach Monday to boost a storied program that’s been mired in mediocrity for much of this century.
The school announced the move on Twitter, and Pitino is expected to be formally introduced during a news conference Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
Following a successful run at nearby mid-major Iona, the 70-year-old Pitino was plucked away to replace Mike Anderson, fired March 10 after four seasons in charge of the Red Storm without making the NCAA Tournament. Reports quickly surfaced that indicated St. John’s planned to target Pitino, who grew up on Long Island not far from the school’s Queens campus in New York City.
Pitino, who was first hired as a head coach by Boston University for the 1978-79 season, has been to seven Final Fours and won a pair of NCAA championships, one each at Kentucky (1996) and Louisville (2013).
He was dismissed at Louisville in 2017 after an FBI investigation into college basketball corruption led to allegations of NCAA violations. It was the third scandal, professional and personal, in an eight-year period with the Cardinals — but Pitino was eventually exonerated in the FBI-related case.
Pitino has been coaching college basketball so long that he was on the opposing bench with Big East rival Providence when St. John's was a national power in the mid-1980s under Lou Carnesecca.
Now, he's tasked with invigorating a Red Storm squad that hasn't won an NCAA Tournament game — or even reached the Big East semifinals — since 2000. The school has made only three NCAA appearances over the past two decades, the most recent coming in 2019 under Chris Mullin.
Pitino has a .740 winning percentage in 34 full seasons as a college basketball coach. He has guided five schools to the NCAA Tournament, including BU (1983) and Iona (2021, 2023).
Pitino went 64-22 in three years with the Gaels, guiding them to two regular-season titles in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and the pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. Seeded 13th this year, they led No. 4 seed UConn at halftime before getting knocked out in the first round with an 87-63 loss that snapped a 14-game winning streak.