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Rick Pitino

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Title: Rick Pitino  
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Subject: NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, Billy Gillispie, NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship records, 2012–13 Louisville Cardinals men's basketball team, Ray Mears (basketball)
Collection: 1952 Births, American Basketball Coaches, American People of Italian Descent, American Racehorse Owners and Breeders, Basketball Players from New York, Boston Celtics Head Coaches, Boston University Terriers Men's Basketball Coaches, College Basketball Announcers in the United States, College Men's Basketball Head Coaches in the United States, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors Basketball Coaches, Kentucky Wildcats Men's Basketball Coaches, Living People, Louisville Cardinals Men's Basketball Coaches, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Inductees, National Basketball Association Executives, New York Knicks Assistant Coaches, New York Knicks Head Coaches, People from Bayville, New York, Providence Friars Men's Basketball Coaches, Umass Minutemen Basketball Players
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Rick Pitino

Rick Pitino
Pitino answers questions from the press at the 2013 Final Four
Sport(s) Basketball
Current position
Title Head coach
Team Louisville
Record 368–126 (.745)
Biographical details
Born (1952-09-18) September 18, 1952
New York City, New York
Playing career
1971–1974 UMass
Position(s) Guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1974–1976 Hawaii (assistant)
1976 Hawaii (interim HC)
1976–1978 Syracuse (assistant)
1978–1983 Boston University
1983–1985 New York Knicks (assistant)
1985–1987 Providence
1987–1989 New York Knicks
1989–1997 Kentucky
1997–2001 Boston Celtics
2001–present Louisville
Head coaching record
Overall 722–254 (.740)
Accomplishments and honors
NCAA Division I Championships (1996, 2013)
NCAA Regional Championships – Final Four
(1987, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2005, 2012, 2013)
America East Tournament championship (1983)
America East regular season championships (1980, 1983)
SEC Tournament championships (19921995, 1997)
SEC regular season championships (1995, 1996)
C-USA Tournament championships (2003, 2005)
C-USA regular season championship (2005)
Big East Tournament championships (2009, 2012, 2013)
Big East regular season championships (2009, 2013)
AAC regular season championship (2014)
AAC Tournament championship (2014)
NABC Coach of the Year (1987)
John Wooden National Coach of the Year (1987)
3× SEC Coach of the Year (1990, 1991, 1996)
C-USA Coach of the Year (2005)
Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2013
Pitino coaching the Louisville Cardinals

Richard Andrew "Rick" Pitino (born September 18, 1952)[1][2][3] is an American basketball coach. Since 2001, he has been the head coach at the University of Louisville, and coached the Cardinals to the 2013 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship. As a college head coach, Pitino has also served at Boston University, Providence College and the University of Kentucky, leading that program to the NCAA championship in 1996. In addition to his college coaching career, Pitino also served two stints in the NBA, coaching the New York Knicks for two seasons and the Boston Celtics for three and a partial fourth.

Pitino holds the distinction of being the only recognized men's coach in NCAA history to lead three different schools (Providence, Kentucky, and Louisville) to a Final Four and the only coach in the NCAA to lead two different schools to an NCAA National Championship (Kentucky and Louisville). Pitino is also one of only four coaches in NCAA history (along with Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim) to take his school to the Final Four in four separate decades, one of only three coaches (along with Roy Williams and Jack Gardner) to have led two different programs to at least two Final Fours each, and one of only two coaches (along with Williams) to have led two different programs to at least three Final Fours each. In addition, Pitino has achieved a measure of success as an author and a motivational speaker. Pitino's election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame was officially announced on April 8 during the 2013 Final Four; he was inducted five months later.[4]


  • Biography 1
    • Early years 1.1
    • Collegiate coaching 1.2
      • Assistant coaching career 1.2.1
      • Boston University 1.2.2
      • Providence 1.2.3
      • Kentucky 1.2.4
      • Louisville 1.2.5
    • Professional coaching 1.3
    • Puerto Rico National Team 1.4
    • Author and accomplishments 1.5
    • Thoroughbred horse racing 1.6
    • Personal life 1.7
    • Extortion attempt against Pitino 1.8
  • Coaching tree 2
    • Former assistants as head coaches 2.1
    • Former players as head coaches 2.2
    • Former players in coaching 2.3
  • Head coaching record 3
    • College 3.1
    • NBA 3.2
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Early years

Pitino was born in New York City, New York and was raised in Bayville, New York. He was captain of the St. Dominic High School basketball team in nearby Oyster Bay, Long Island.[5] He enrolled at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1970. He was a standout guard for the Minutemen basketball team. His 329 career assists rank tenth all-time at UMass, as of the 2009–10 season.[6] He led the team in assists as a junior and senior.[7][8] The 168 assists as a senior is the eighth-best single season total ever there.[6][9] Pitino was a freshman at the same time future NBA legend Julius Erving spent his junior (and final) year at UMass, although the two never played on the same team because freshmen were ineligible to play varsity basketball at the time. Other teammates of Pitino's include Al Skinner, who also went on to become a successful college coach, and baseballer Mike Flanagan, who went on to pitch in the major leagues and win the AL Cy Young Award in 1979. Pitino earned his degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) in 1974.

Collegiate coaching

Pitino is currently head coach of the University of Louisville. Previous college coaching assignments include Boston University, Providence College, and the University of Kentucky. As a collegiate head coach, Pitino has compiled a 629–234 record, for a .732 winning percentage that is ranked 10th among active coaches and 29th all-time among all collegiate basketball coaches entering the 2012 season.

Pitino is considered by many to be one of the first coaches to promote fully taking advantage of the 3-point shot, first adopted by the NCAA in 1987. By exploiting the 3-point shot, his teams at Kentucky in the early 1990s were known as Pitino's Bombinos, as a significant portion of the offensive points came from the 3-point shot. Even now, Pitino's teams are known for the 3-point threat and all of his teams rank towards the top in 3-point attempts per season.

Many of Pitino's players and assistant coaches have gone on to become successful collegiate coaches. In total, 21 former Pitino players and coaches have become Division I head coaches, including Florida's Billy Donovan, Texas Tech's Tubby Smith, Arizona State's Herb Sendek, Cincinnati's Mick Cronin, Minnesota's Richard Pitino, Seton Hall's Kevin Willard as well as Cal State Northridge's Reggie Theus.[9]

Assistant coaching career

Pitino started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Hawaii in 1974, and became a full-time assistant (and interim head coach) in 1975. He was then the first assistant hired by Jim Boeheim in 1976 as Boeheim began his tenure at Syracuse University.

Pitino served as Hawaii's interim head coach late in the 1975–76 season. Coach Bruce O'Neil was fired after the Rainbow Warriors' started the season 9–12. Pitino led Hawaii for their final six games, going 2–4 in the span.[10]

Pitino's time at Hawaii was marred by a 1977 NCAA report on sanctions against the program. According to the report, Pitino was implicated in 8 of the 64 infractions that led the University to be placed on probation. The violations involving Pitino included providing round-trip air fare for a player between New York and Honolulu, arranging for student-athletes to receive used cars for season tickets, and handing out coupons to players for free food at McDonald's. He was also cited, along with the head coach, Bruce O'Neil, for providing misinformation to the NCAA and University of Hawaii officials. Also in 1977, the NCAA infractions committee recommended that Pitino and O'Neil be disassociated from Hawaii athletics. In 1989, Pitino would dismiss the report, saying "I didn't make any mistakes, I don't care what anybody says."[11]

Boston University

Pitino's first head coaching job came in 1978 at Boston University. In the two seasons before his arrival, the team had won a mere 17 games. Pitino led the team to its first NCAA appearance in 24 years.[12]


Pitino left Boston University to become an assistant coach with the New York Knicks under Hubie Brown. Pitino returned to college coaching to become head coach at Providence College in 1985. Providence had gone a dismal 11–20 in the year before he took over. Two years later, Pitino led the team to the Final Four. That Final Four team featured point guard Billy Donovan, who would go on to be an assistant coach under Pitino at the University of Kentucky and then win back-to-back national championships as head coach at the University of Florida.


After spending two years coaching in the NBA, Pitino returned to the college level again in 1989, becoming the coach at Kentucky. The legendary Kentucky program was dusting off its shoulders from a major recruiting scandal brought on by former coach Eddie Sutton that left it on NCAA probation. Pitino quickly restored Kentucky's reputation and performance, leading his second school to the Final Four in the 1993 NCAA Tournament, and winning a national title in the 1996 NCAA Tournament, Kentucky's 6th NCAA Championship. The following year, Pitino's Kentucky team made it back to the national title game, losing to Arizona in overtime in the finals of the 1997 NCAA Tournament. Pitino's fast-paced teams at Kentucky were favorites of the school's fans. It was primarily at Kentucky where he implemented his signature style of full-court pressure defense. The following year he left Kentucky for the NBA and Kentucky went on to win the 1998 national title. He would later refer to Kentucky as "the Roman Empire of college basketball".[13]


Pitino went back to the NBA in 1997, but returned to college—and his adopted home state—on March 21, 2001 to coach the University of Louisville following the retirement of Hall of Fame coach Denny Crum. In the 2005 season, Pitino led Louisville to their first Final Four in 19 years, and became the first men's coach in NCAA history to lead three different schools to the Final Four. Immediately following their Final Four run, several players graduated or entered the 2005 NBA Draft. The inexperience caused the Cardinals to limp into the Big East Tournament seeded 12th, and miss the NCAA tournament. They made the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), where they were defeated by eventual champions University of South Carolina. The 2007 Cardinal team was primarily the same team, with added freshmen. Picked to finish towards the bottom of the Big East Conference again, Pitino led them to a second-place finish, 12–4 (tied with the University of Pittsburgh, who had been beaten by the Cardinals during the regular season) in the conference standings and a first round bye in the conference tournament. Pitino implemented a 2–2–1 and 2–3 zone defense midway through the season. The 2007 team's season ended when the Cardinals lost to Texas A&M in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The 2008 Cardinals finished second in the Big East and ranked 13th in both the AP and Coaches' polls. Louisville was the third seed in the 2008 NCAA tournament's East region. They defeated Boise State, Oklahoma and Tennessee to advance to the Elite Eight, where they were defeated by North Carolina. Louisville was the top seed overall in the 2009 NCAA tournament and was planted as the first seed in the Midwest region. They defeated Morehead State, Siena and Arizona to advance to the Elite Eight, where they were defeated by Michigan State. In 2010 the Cardinals suffered a disappointing 15-point loss to their first round opponent, the California Golden Bears. In 2011, Louisville was upset by 13th-seeded Morehead State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

In 2012, Pitino coached the Cardinals to the Big East tournament championship and a berth as a 4 seed in the West region of the NCAA tournament. The Cardinals defeated Davidson, New Mexico, and top seed Michigan State to advance to the regional final against Florida and his former player and friend Billy Donovan. The Cardinals would go on to win that game, but lost to arch-rivals and eventual national champions Kentucky in the 2012 Final Four.

In 2013, Pitino led the Louisville Cardinals to their third National Championship in an 82-76 win over Michigan to become the first NCAA Division I coach in history to win a championship with two different schools.

Professional coaching

Pitino addresses the crowd before Louisville's 2012 Red-White Scrimmage

Pitino became head coach of the New York Knicks in 1987. The year before he arrived, the team had won only 24 games. In just two years, Pitino led the Knicks to their first division title in nearly twenty years.[12]

His NBA coaching experience often demonstrated a deep frustration with the dynamics of the league, especially in Boston, where he amassed a 102–146 record from 1997 to 2001. After being beaten by the Toronto Raptors on March 1, 2000, on a buzzer-beater by Vince Carter, Pitino's frustration reached critical mass as he addressed the press. Referring to the expectations of Boston Celtics fans and media, Pitino challenged each of them to let go of the past and focus on the future:

Pitino struggled in his roles with the Celtics, and statistics like 1999's 19–31 record made him little better in the eyes of many Boston fans than his inexperienced predecessor, M.L. Carr. Pitino's remarks became a cornerstone of Boston Celtics lore, and has served as a metaphor for other sports franchises and their inability to relive past successes.[15] Pitino himself reprised the speech in a tongue-in-cheek manner at Louisville in November 2005, challenging his freshmen players to play as tough as past seniors and drawing laughter from sportswriters in a post-game press conference. During his time in Boston he had complete power serving not just as head coach but as general manager, CEO, and president of the team.

Puerto Rico National Team

On December 20, 2010, the Puerto Rico Basketball Federation announced Rick Pitino as the next head coach for Puerto Rico's Olympic team. The President of the Basketball Federation described the hiring as the highest impact coaching hire in the history of Puerto Rico Basketball. On April 29, 2011, it was announced that Pitino would not coach the Puerto Rico national team due to scheduling conflicts and NCAA regulations disallowing it. However, Pitino is currently coaching the Puerto Rican national team at the 2015 FIBA Americas Championships in Mexico City.[16]

Author and accomplishments

Pitino is the author of a motivational self-help book (and audio recording) named Success is a Choice. He published an autobiography in 1988 entitled Born to Coach describing his life up until his time with the Knicks. His most recent book "Rebound Rules," was the top seller at the 2008 Kentucky Book Fair.

In 2005, Pitino's Louisville team posted a tie for the most single season wins in school history (33)—since surpassed by the 35 total wins by the 2013 NCAA title-winning Cardinals team—while he is one of two men's coaches in NCAA history to lead three separate schools (Providence, Kentucky, and Louisville) to the Final Four. The other coach is his in-state rival, John Calipari (UMASS, Memphis, Kentucky), though both final four appearances at UMASS and Memphis were later vacated.

As of 2012, Pitino's .724 winning percentage in 58 NCAA Tournament games ranks eighth among all coaches, sixth among active coaches.[17]

Thoroughbred horse racing

Beyond basketball, Pitino has been involved in the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing as the lead partner in Celtic Pride Stable and the Ol Memorial Stable. Among his notable horses have been A P Valentine and Halory Hunter.[18] Pitino, through the stable name of RAP Racing, owns a 5 percent share of Goldencents. Goldencents who won the $750,000 2013 Santa Anita Derby, ran in the 2013 Kentucky Derby and finished 17th despite having 8/1 odds of winning.[19]

Personal life

Pitino married his wife, the former Joanne Minardi, in 1976. They have five living children: Michael, Christopher, Richard (now the head coach at Minnesota),[20] Ryan and Jacqueline. Another son, Daniel, died in 1987 from congenital heart failure at the age of six months. Rick and Joanne established the Daniel Pitino Foundation (along with a Daniel Pitino shelter in Owensboro, Kentucky) in his memory, which has raised millions of dollars for children in need.[21]

Their son's death was not the last tragedy for Rick and Joanne. Both were especially hard-hit by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, as Joanne's brother and Rick's closest friend, Billy Minardi, was working as a bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 105th floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center when it was struck by American Airlines Flight 11. Since 2002, the University of Louisville has designated a December home game as the Billy Minardi Classic, and the university named a dorm on campus as "Billy Minardi Hall." Only a few months earlier, another brother-in-law of Rick, Don Vogt, was killed after being hit by a New York City cab.[5]

With Eric Crawford, Pitino has written a book, The One-Day Contract: How to Add Value to Every Minute of Your Life.

Extortion attempt against Pitino

On April 18, 2009, Pitino announced that he was a target of an extortion attempt.[22] On April 24, Karen Cunagin Sypher, the wife of Louisville equipment manager Tim Sypher, was arraigned and charged in US District Court with extortion and lying to federal agents.[23][24] On August 11, Pitino admitted to having engaged in sexual relations with Cunagin on August 1, 2003 in Porcini, a Louisville restaurant. Several weeks later, Cunagin told Pitino that she was pregnant and wanted to have an abortion, but she did not have health insurance. Pitino paid her $3,000 for an abortion.[25] Later, giving testimony during the trial, Pitino gave a different story to the jury. Irritated by questions from Cunagin's counselor about the incident, Pitino downplayed the pair's sexual escapade. The complete act took, the coach testified, "No more than 15 seconds." Pitino is not the first coach to commit adultery, but he's one of the few who has had to admit to it in public, under oath.[26] In addition, Cunagin who was convicted for extortion and lying to federal agents,[27] claimed that her estranged husband, Tim Sypher, was paid to marry her.[28]

At a press conference on August 12, Pitino made a statement, in which he apologized for his indiscretion and stated that he would remain as coach.[29] While Pitino's contract allows for his firing for "acts of moral depravity or misconduct that damages the university's reputation," University of Louisville president James Ramsey announced on August 13 that Pitino would be retained in his position.[25] On August 26, Pitino demanded in a press conference that the media stop "reporting these lies." The conference was called even though University of Louisville officials advised that he was not obligated to respond.[28] On August 6, 2010, a federal district court found Cunagin guilty of extortion and lying to federal agents, carrying a maximum penalty of 26 years in prison. After her conviction, Cunagin hired new attorneys and accused the judge, prosecutors, her former attorneys, and Pitino of taking part in a conspiracy to ensure she was found guilty.

Coaching tree

Former assistants as head coaches

Former players as head coaches

Former players in coaching

Head coaching record


Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (NCAA Division I Independent) (1975–1976)
1975–76 Hawaii 2–4
Hawaii: 2–4 (.333)
Boston University Terriers (NCAA Division I Independent) (1978–1979)
1978–79 Boston University 17–9
Boston University Terriers (America East Conference) (1979–1983)
1979–80 Boston University 21–9 19–7 T–1st NIT Second Round
1980–81 Boston University 13–14 13–13 T–4th
1981–82 Boston University 19–9 6–2 4th
1982–83 Boston University 21–10 8–2 T–1st NCAA Preliminary
Boston University: 91–51 (.641) 46–24 (.657)
Providence Friars (Big East Conference) (1985–1987)
1985–86 Providence 17–14 7–9 5th NIT Semifinals
1986–87 Providence 25–9 10–6 4th NCAA Final Four
Providence: 42–23 (.646) 17–15 (.531)
Kentucky Wildcats (Southeastern Conference) (1989–1997)
^1989–90 Kentucky 14–14 10–8 T–4th^ —^
^1990–91 Kentucky 22–6 14–4 1st^^ —^
1991–92 Kentucky 29–7 12–4 1st (East) NCAA Elite Eight
1992–93 Kentucky 30–4 13–3 2nd (East) NCAA Final Four
1993–94 Kentucky 27–7 12–4 2nd (East) NCAA Round of 32
1994–95 Kentucky 28–5 14–2 1st (East) NCAA Elite Eight
1995–96 Kentucky 34–2 16–0 1st (East) NCAA Champions
1996–97 Kentucky 35–5 13–3 2nd (East) NCAA Runner-up
Kentucky: 219–50 (.814) 104–28 (.788)
Louisville Cardinals (Conference USA) (2001–2005)
2001–02 Louisville 19–13 8–8 T–8th NIT Second Round
2002–03 Louisville 25–7 11–5 3rd NCAA Round of 32
2003–04 Louisville 20–10 9–7 T–6th NCAA Round of 64
2004–05 Louisville 33–5 14–2 1st NCAA Final Four
Louisville Cardinals (Big East Conference) (2005–2013)
2005–06 Louisville 21–13 6–10 T–11th NIT Semifinals
2006–07 Louisville 24–10 12–4 T–2nd NCAA Round of 32
2007–08 Louisville 27–9 14–4 T–2nd NCAA Elite Eight
2008–09 Louisville 31–6 16–2 1st NCAA Elite Eight
2009–10 Louisville 20–13 11–7 T–5th NCAA Round of 64
2010–11 Louisville 25–10 12–6 T–3rd NCAA Round of 64
2011–12 Louisville 30–10 10–8 7th NCAA Final Four
2012–13 Louisville 35–5 14–4 T–1st NCAA Champions
Louisville Cardinals (American Athletic Conference) (2013–2014)
2013–14 Louisville 31–6 15–3 T–1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
Louisville Cardinals (Atlantic Coast Conference) (2014–present)
2014–15 Louisville 27–9 12–6 4th NCAA Elite Eight
2015–16 Louisville 0–0 0–0
Louisville: 368–126 (.745) 164–76 (.683)
Total: 722–254 (.740)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

^Kentucky was ineligible for both the NCAA and SEC Tournaments in 1990 and 1991 due to sanctions from the Eddie Sutton-era.

^^Kentucky finished first in the SEC standings. However, due to their probation, they were ineligible for the regular-season title; it was awarded to second-place LSU instead.


Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
NYK 1987–88 82 38 44 .463 2nd in Atlantic 4 1 3 .250 Lost in First Round
NYK 1988–89 82 52 30 .634 1st in Atlantic 9 5 4 .556 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
BOS 1997–98 82 36 46 .439 6th in Atlantic Missed Playoffs
BOS 1998–99 50 19 31 .371 5th in Atlantic Missed Playoffs
BOS 1999–00 82 35 47 .427 5th in Atlantic Missed Playoffs
BOS 2000–01 34 12 22 .371 (resigned)
Career 412 192 220 .466 13 6 7 .462

See also


  1. ^ Player Bio: Rick Pitino. Louisville Cardinal.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Italian-American Experience, p. 846, at Google Books
  4. ^ The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame - The Class of 2013 at the Wayback Machine (archived April 30, 2013)
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^
  11. ^
  13. ^ Like Rome, Kentucky is a storied, flawed empire
  14. ^
  15. ^ Megliola: Pitino legacy now stained - Framingham, MA - The MetroWest Daily News
  16. ^
  17. ^ 2012:NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Records of all Coaches. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  18. ^ Breeders' Cup Bios at the Wayback Machine (archived July 16, 2011)
  19. ^ Fox Sports - Temporarily Unavailable
  20. ^
  21. ^ William George Minardi, "Coach Pitino, Wife Mourn Loss at WTC of Her Brother, His Best Friend, Oyster Bay's Minardi" at the Wayback Machine (archived October 1, 2007) (November 11, 2001).
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ FBI Affidavit regarding Sypher
  25. ^ a b
  26. ^
  27. ^ Jury finds Rick Pitino accuser Karen Cunagin Sypher guilty of extortion - ESPN
  28. ^ a b
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ Mick Cronin Bio - - The Official Athletics Website of the University of Cincinnati
  34. ^ Steve Masiello - The Official Athletic Site of Manhattan College
  35. ^ Player Bio: Herb Sendek - Arizona State University Official Athletic Site at the Wayback Machine (archived February 5, 2012)
  36. ^ Mark Jackson named head coach of Golden State Warriors - ESPN
  37. ^ ,
  38. ^ Patrick Ewing, currently jobless, turned down a chance to coach New York's D-League affiliate | Ball Don't Lie - Yahoo Sports
  39. ^ Reggie Hanson Bio -—Official Athletics Web Site of the University of South Florida
  40. ^ Camp Info
  41. ^ Andre McGee Bio - Louisville Cardinals Official Athletic Site
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^ (soft paywall)
  45. ^ Mark Pope Staff Bio | Men's Basketball Assistant Coach | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

External links

  • Official website
  • Louisville profile
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