The University of Louisville has extended the contract of men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino four years, boosting his association with the Cardinals through the 2025-26 season.
The first coach in NCAA history to win a national title at two different schools and the first to take three different teams to the Final Four, Pitino had seven years remaining on his current contract, which had tied him with the Cardinals through the 2021-22 season.
In 30 seasons as a collegiate head coach at five different schools, Pitino has compiled a 722-254 record, a .740 winning percentage that ranks him 11th among active coaches. He has a 368-126 record in 14 seasons at UofL, the third winningest coach in Cardinal history. UofL is among the nations’ top 10 programs in winning percentage under his guidance.
Pitino was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013, lofty recognition for a lifetime of impressive basketball achievement. His up-tempo style, pressure defense, strong work ethic and family atmosphere have restored the Cardinals to national prominence where it is firmly seated.
His most recent Cardinals reached the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament appearance for the fifth time in the last eight years and played their first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference, finishing fourth among a league with five teams in the nation’s top 25, including NCAA Champion Duke. He won his 700th game along the way.
Pitino guided the Cardinals to the 2013 NCAA Championship after claiming the nation’s top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and winning the BIG EAST Conference regular season co-championship and tournament titles. The Cardinals won a school-record 35 games while claiming their first NCAA title in 27 years. UofL reached its second straight and10th Final Four, marking Pitino’s seventh, a total reached by only six coaches all-time.
A 2006 inductee to the New York City Hall of Fame, Pitino has the second-highest winning percentage in NCAA Tournament games among active coaches, winning 74.6 percent of his games in the post-season event with a 53-18 record in 20 tournament appearances.
Pitino’s impact on the U of L program has gone well beyond his on-court success. The overall grade point average of the men’s basketball team in recent years has set record figures and the Cardinals received an NCAA Public Recognition Award in the latest Academic Progress Rate with a perfect score. The Cardinals earned a collective 3.26 grade point average for the 2014-15 academic year and the team has produced around a 3.0 or better GPA for 14 consecutive semesters. Louisville placed a league-high seven individuals on the 21-member 2015 ACC All-Academic Team.
For three and a half years, Pitino served as president and head coach of the NBA’s Boston Celtics. With the Celtics, he took over a team that had posted a franchise worst 15-67 record before his arrival. He quickly made an impact, improving the Celtics’ victory total by 21 games in his first season. He resigned his position with the storied franchise on Jan. 8, 2001 after compiling a 102-146 record there.
He guided Kentucky to three NCAA Final Four appearances in his last five years at Kentucky, winning the 1996 NCAA Championship and reaching the national title game in 1997. In eight seasons with the Wildcats, he amassed a 219-50 record (.814) while winning two league crowns and an impressive 17-1 record in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
Pitino, 62, got his start in coaching as a graduate assistant at Hawai’i in 1974 and served as a full-time assistant there in 1975-76 when he was the head coach for the last six games of the season (2-4) when the head coach was relieved of his duties. He served two seasons as an assistant at Syracuse under Jim Boeheim from 1976-78.
Pitino was only 25 years old when he accepted his first head coaching job at Boston University in 1978. He produced a 91-51 record in five years there, departing as the most successful coach in BU history. In his final season there, he guided the Terriers to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 24 years. He was twice named New England Coach of the Year (1979, 1983).
Pitino left Boston U. to become an assistant coach for the New York Knicks from 1983-85, where he worked with head coach Hubie Brown. It was a team he would return to lead as its head coach in two seasons.
He was head coach at Providence College for two seasons (1985-87), producing a 42-23 record there. He guided the Friars to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 1986 and an improbable trip to the NCAA Final Four in 1987, winning the regional title in Freedom Hall.
Before his stint at Kentucky, Pitino served as head coach of the New York Knicks for two seasons. In his initial year there in 1987-88, the Knicks improved by 14 victories and made the NBA Playoffs for the first time in four seasons. The Knicks won 52 games in 1988-89 and swept the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
Aside from his hoops prowess, Pitino has achieved success off the court as well in such realms as broadcasting, publishing, motivational speaking and horse racing. He is an accomplished author, producing such books as the best sellers “Success Is A Choice” and “Lead to Succeed,” as well as his latest offering “The One-Day Contract.”
He earned his degree in 1974 at Massachusetts, where he was a standout guard for the Minutemen’s basketball team. His 329 career assists rank eighth all-time at UMass and his 168 assists as a senior is the sixth-best single season total ever there. Pitino was a freshman during NBA legend Julius Erving’s senior year.
Born Sept. 18, 1952, Pitino is a native of New York City where he was a standout guard for Dominic High School in Oyster Bay, Long Island. There, he captained his team and established several school scoring marks.
Pitino and his wife Joanne have five children — Michael, Christopher, Richard, Ryan and Jacqueline — and six grandchildren — Anna, Audrey, Alex (Michael and wife Bethany’s children), Andrew, James (Christopher and wife Brucie’s children), and Ava (Richard and wife Jill’s child).
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