NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — In a move that stunned the college basketball world Saturday, Rick Pitino was announced as the new head coach of the Iona men's hoops program, according to a press release.
"I am delighted to welcome Rick Pitino to Gael Nation," said Iona Director of Athletics Matthew Glovaski. "Rick is a Hall of Fame coach who has won at the highest levels and he is committed to leading our student-athletes and our program to national prominence. He brings passion and energy and shares our desire to build a winning program that will make our community proud."
"My passion in basketball started in New York and will end there at Iona College," Pitino said. "At Iona, I will work with the same passion, hunger and drive that I’ve had for over forty years. There is a real professionalism in how things are run here and this is a very tight, strong community."
Pitino replaces former coach Tim Cluess, who stepped down after 10 years running the program due to illness.
"Tim Cluess has done a spectacular job creating success and a winning spirit," Pitino said. "I wish Tim a speedy recovery and Iona will always cherish his accomplishments."
Pitino led the University of Kentucky to an NCAA men's basketball title in 1996. However, he was fired from the University of Louisville amid an FBI probe over a scandal involving bribery. Louisville also had it's 2013 NCAA title vacated over an escort scandal.
Iona's program was set to miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015 prior to the season being suspended due to the coronavirus.
Pitino has a 770-221 lifetime record and has taken three different schools to the Final Four.
PIX11 News' Justin Walters also contributed to this report.