Well that was quick.
Before the rumor mill could even churn a report that Maryland was interested in hiring coach Rick Pitino, the Hall of Famer shut down the possibility.
Pitino, now at Iona, tweeted Thursday morning that he is “committed” to coaching the Gaels and that he will not be the Terrapins’ next coach.
“The University of Maryland is one of the premier institutions of higher learning. It’s basketball program can be among the nation’s best. I hope they find the next great Gary Williams. I love coaching at Iona, and I’m totally committed to my players. It will not be me,” Pitino tweeted.
Pitino’s tweet came a day after 106.7 The Fan reported Wednesday that Maryland was “heavily pursuing” the former Kentucky and Louisville coach.
“We’re not saying Rick is the guy,” Sports Junkies host Jason Bishop said. “We’re just saying that Maryland really likes Pitino. He‘s their top dog.”
Pitino, 69, has said that he wants to finish his career at Iona, where he started coaching in 2020-21. He led the Gaels to an NCAA Tournament berth in his first season, and the team is currently in first in the MAAC with a 24-5 record.
“My goal is to finish my career at Iona,” Pitino told the New York Post in January. “That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t entertain to be an NBA coach again. I can’t say [I won’t coach at another college], because then you look like a liar if you ever do. My total motive is to stay here. I’m a New Yorker. I want to end my career in New York. I live in a place I want to live. But you never know.”
While Pitino threw cold water on the rumor, it wasn’t a surprise that the Terrapins — or any school with an opening — would be interested in him. Pitino has seen success at every stop in his career, taking five different schools (Boston, Providence, Kentucky, Louisville and Iona) to the NCAA Tournament. He’s been to seven Final Fours and won national championships with Kentucky in 1996 and Louisville in 2013.
But the coach also comes with some baggage. Most recently, he was fired by Louisville in 2017 after an FBI investigation in college basketball that revealed Adidas paid $100,000 to the family of a recruit to convince him to sign with the Cardinals.
Maryland’s coaching job has been vacant since early December, when Mark Turgeon resigned after 10-plus seasons. Danny Manning took over as interim coach, and the Terrapins could be on the verge of their first losing season since 1992-93. Maryland is 15-15 overall and 7-12 in Big Ten play with one regular-season game remaining.