Reports: Richard Pitino is new Gophers basketball coach

by Andrew Krammer

From the Golden Panthers to the Golden Gophers, it looks like Florida International coach Richard Pitino will be the Gophers next men's basketball coach.’s Jeff Goodman, who also broke the news on Tubby Smith’s ousting, broke the news that first-year athletics director Norwood Teague met with Pitino and other coaches in Florida on Wednesday. Goodman reported the "deal is done" between Minnesota and Pitino. 

Pitino, son of Louisville coach Rick Pitino, coached the Golden Panthers to their first winning season (18-14, 11-9 Sun Belt) since 1999-00 as a rookie head coach. Pitino was an assistant and associate head coach at Louisville, as well as an assistant at Florida before joining FIU less than a year ago.

During the coaching search, talk circulated around Gophers associate athletics director Mike Ellis and “Villa 7,” a program that connects assistant coaches with athletics directors; and one he started while at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Pitino, 30, is not a graduate of the coaching consortium, but he learned under legendary coaches like Florida’s Billy Donovan (national champion in 2006 and 2007) and his own father in Rick Pitino (national champion in 1996, five additional Final Four runs).

Teague has hired two Florida assistants previously as head coaches while at VCU. Both Anthony Grant and current VCU coach Shaka Smart learned under Donovan like Pitino.

Richard Pitino’s playoff experience under Donovan and Rick Pitino dwarf any achievements in Gophers basketball history. He made it to the Final Four in the NCAA tournament as an associate head coach with Louisville in 2011-12; three Elite Eight appearances, one as an assistant with the Gators in 2010-11 and two as an assistant with Louisville in 2007-08 and 2008-09.

Now, in his second year as a head coach, Pitino will likely lead a Big Ten team in 2013.