Rick Pitino’s Son Makes Bold Claim About His Decision To Leave Iona

Richard and Rick Pitino chat after a game between New Mexico and Iona.

Getty Image

Richard Pitino is making a bold claim about his father, Rick’s, decision to leave Iona. The legendary college basketball coach is now set to lead St. John’s after spending three seasons with the Gaels.

While the move is most certainly an upgrade for the elder Pitino, as he’ll now go from the MAAC to one of the sport’s most storied leagues in the Big East, Richard says the move has nothing to do with a salary bump or a role with a prestigious university.

Instead, he thinks his dad is dodging him.

The Pitinos faced off last season while Rick was at Iona. The Gaels traveled to Albuquerque for a December meeting with New Mexico.

Richard Pitino has been at the helm for the Lobos since 2021, winning 22 games last season. He led his program to the NIT and even climbed into the Top 25 for a few brief stints in the months of December and January.

Unfortunately, the Lobos struggled down the stretch after a 19-3 start. New Mexico ended the year at 22-12, just missing out on the Big Dance. They did, however, pick up a win over Iona in that non-conference portion of the season.

Richard Pitino says that Rick is leaving Iona to avoid taking another loss next year.

He posted a message on Twitter after the news broke saying as much.

“Clearly ducking a return game with the Lobos.”

While the quip was made in jest, Rick Pitino’s moving on to St. John’s is probably a good thing for the sport. He’ll now have a chance to lead one of college basketball’s premiere Big East programs back to the top of the sport.

The Red Storm made 16 of 18 NCAA Tournament fields between 1976-1993, reaching four Sweet Sixteens and a Final Four. They’ve since struggled, going through six different coaches since the turn of the century.

St. John’s is hoping the seventh hire will change the program’s trajectory.