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Report: FIU coach Richard Pitino close to finalizing deal with Minnesota

Apr 3, 2013, 3:03 PM EDT

Richard Pitino AP

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While his dad is headed to the Final Four in Atlanta with Louisville, a report says that FIU head coach Richard Pitino could steal at least a share of the family spotlight this week.

According to Andy Katz of, Minnesota is finalizing a deal to make Pitino its head coach and fill the vacancy that was created with the firing of Tubby Smith on March 25.

Pitino coached FIU to an 18-14 overall record this past season, including 11-9 in Sun Belt play. He came within one game securing an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, but his team lost to Western Kentucky in the conference tournament championship game.

If the move happens, it would be a bold one for the Gophers. But Pitino, 30, has experience as a high-major assistant at Louisville with his father and at Florida under head coach Billy Donovan. Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague was at Virginia Commonwealth when he gave another one-time assistant, Shaka Smart, his first major head coaching break.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

  1. rj6976 - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    hope he brings more to the table than his last name

  2. packhawk04 - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    Agree with rj. Gophers just got rid of a novelty who was only there to sell tickets and didnt care how his team did. Gophers need a coach this time.

  3. latemoney - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    So lemme see….get rid of proven coach who’s won NC and hire Pitino. Richard Pitino! Clown hire from the Minn AD.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Apr 3, 2013 at 10:41 PM

      there was nothing proven about Tubby’s Big 10 record other than it was grossly under achieved for being what his name is.

      • mogogo1 - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:10 PM

        The 10 years prior to Tubby weren’t great…he got you four 20 win years while there’d been only two in the decade before him. I get why they fired him after several late-season collapses, but this hire shows just how tough it is to attract A-list coaches to Minnesota. Flip turned them down flat so now they’ve got a great coach’s son who struggled to hit .500 at his previous stop. The day may yet come where the Tubby years are viewed fondly.

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Apr 5, 2013 at 1:37 AM


        1. There’s more to the story than Flip flat out turning them down. The fact is, Flip wanted the job. The fact is, Teague’s ego didn’t want him when he’s trying to make a name for himself. Flip was offered the job, under one condition; Teague got to help pick his assistants. Flip wanted no part of that, thus the turn down. Flip wanted his son Ryan Saunders (former U of M player) as an assistant, and is very plugged into the AAU and high schools around here. The reason Teague didn’t want Flip’s son on the staff is because Minnesota got a bad image from having Tubby’s son on the staff and getting nailed for a DUI a few months ago.

        2. The 10 years before Tubby came here, the Gophers were in the Final 4. However, that was erased due to a massive academic sandal where a lady (paid for by the former coach) had written over 400 pages for players. Besides that, the NCAA placed sanctions on the program by losing 5 scholarships over 3 years, recruiting limitiations, and probation. Something Dan Monson couldn’t over come.

        Pitino is a very high risk, high reward hire for Minnesota. Let’s not kid ourselves, FIU isn’t exactly a basketball powerhouse. They play in a buliding that holds 5,000 and they were playing in front of crowds that were in the 600’s. Leading a program that is that bad to a winning record of 18-14 from a team that finished in last place and had a record of 8-21 the season the before, is something.

        I’d rather have the Gophers take a swing on Pitino than rather have the stale state that the program is in under Tubby Smith. I hate to say it, but Texas Tech isn’t getting the second coming of (insert any famous coach’s name here).

  4. imforbigblue - Apr 3, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    Don’t get it twisted tubby took over a championship team at uk he could never build one. I love how all you minny fans use to dawg us uk fans for being glad tubby left now you see why we were Happy he did

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Apr 3, 2013 at 10:44 PM

      UK fans were right on with Tubby. I even have heard about a newspaper article written about Tubby in Kentucky when Minnesota hired him. It went exactly as predicted. Except he was a year later for Tubby being fired.

      UK fans feel about Tubby at Minnesota as Minnesota fans feel about Tubby at Texas Tech.

  5. henryd3rd - Apr 3, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    Its a desperation move after their primary targets Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart turned them down. Minn. is not a prime coaching assignment and playing against the likes of Michigan and Michigan State, Ohio State and Indiana only make the task that mush more daunting

    They should have left well enough alone. Who does Minn think they are the Lakers? That train left the station many years ago. Stick to hockey

  6. sdb74 - Apr 3, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    Flip Saunders & Fred Hoiberg turned down the gig in addition to Smart & Stevens.

  7. Rick Spielman is a Magician - Apr 3, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    Given that they swung and missed on a few guys already, I think this is a pretty good hire. Whoever they got was going to be a no-name from a smaller college. At least this guy has a pedigree and his name will get more people excited than anyone else who would have taken the job.

  8. cmart0907 - Apr 4, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    If his last name was not Pitino he wouldn’t be on the topic. Minnesota put him in a bad situation and recruiting wise also. They hoping he turns out like his father at Louisville.

  9. mogogo1 - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    Lesson: Before firing your coach make sure you have somebody desirable lined up who will take the job.
    This is just going to give fans a different guy to blame for why their middle-of-the-pack team is still in the middle-of-the-pack.

  10. greatminnesotasportsmind - Apr 5, 2013 at 1:42 AM

    How about this fact: Gophers AD Norwood Teague called Billy Donovan and asked him if he had any recommendations for a coach and Donovan gave Teague, Richard Pitino.

    Having learned from is dad as an assistant coach at Louisville, and having left after his dad got caugh with pants around his ankles, he left for Florida and learned under Billy Donovan. When you learn from 2 great coaches, it could be worth the risk.

    He’s already reaching out the big name recruits here.

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