On Monday night, legendary Louisville coach Rick Pitino and his team were crowned national champions after defeating Big Ten powerhouse Michigan. Here’s hoping that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Also on Monday, the Minnesota Daily reported that Richard Pitino, Rick’s son, had accepted the position as the University of Minnesota’s men’s basketball coach. Pitino’s contract is worth about $1.2 million per year, which includes annual raises and various incentives, the Daily reported.
It’s not exactly a secret that athletics director Norwood Teague didn’t get his first choice when it came to filling veteran coach Tubby Smith’s vacancy. ESPN reported March 31 that former NBA coach Flip Saunders turned down an offer to be the next head coach at Minnesota.
However, the selection of Pitino is an exciting one, especially given Teague’s earlier success with discovering Shaka Smart at Virginia Commonwealth. There’s no question about the high level of risk involved when selecting someone as young as Pitino, but with his experience as an assistant under a couple of extraordinary coaches, as well as his successful season as Florida International’s head coach (giving the school its first winning record in 13 years), we believe he is a smart choice.
Amidst the excitement and hype surrounding a new head coach, it should also be noted that the construction of a full-time practice facility for the team is a necessity if Minnesota truly wishes to compete at a high level in the Big Ten.
We hope that Pitino feels welcomed as he becomes more acquainted with Minnesota and knows that he’s got the full support of the students behind him.
We would also like to thank Smith for the time and devotion he gave to the University and wish him much success at Texas Tech University.