Iona College Names Hall of Famer Rick Pitino as Men’s Head Basketball Coach

The two-time NCAA Tournament Champion who has taken three different programs to the Final Four is coming home to New York and committed to further elevating Iona Men’s Basketball program.

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Hall of Fame Coach Rick Pitino was named head basketball coach of Iona College today. Pitino, who has taken four different programs to the NCAA tournament and coached two national championship teams, takes over for Coach Tim Cluess, who stepped down as head coach after ten years due to health concerns. Coach Cluess will serve as an advisor to the basketball program moving forward.

"I am delighted to welcome Rick Pitino to Gael Nation,” said 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.”

Pitino and his family, including his wife Joanne, his children and grandchildren are excited to join the Iona community.

“My passion in basketball started in New York and will end there at Iona College,” Pitino said. “Tim Cluess has done a spectacular job creating success and a winning spirit. I wish Tim a speedy recovery and Iona will always cherish his accomplishments. 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. The priority in New Rochelle right now is helping students continue their education online in light of the coronavirus and I very much look forward to the day when the community is back on campus and to get to work on further elevating this strong program.”

“Rick has demonstrated that he cares deeply about helping student-athletes achieve great success on and off the court,” said Iona College President Seamus Carey. “After a thorough interview process we are confident that Rick’s experience and commitment to Iona and our community make him the right person to continue to build on Tim Cluess’ success. We welcome Rick and his family to New Rochelle and look forward to accomplishing big things together.”

During Coach Pitino’s 32 seasons as a collegiate head coach, he:

  • Has a 770-271 overall record and a 54-19 record in the NCAA Tournament;
  • Became the first coach to take three different schools to the NCAA Final Four;
  • Became the first coach to win an NCAA Championship at two different schools;
  • Has the third highest winning percentage in NCAA Tournament games (.740) among all active coaches

Iona Board Chairman Jim Hynes looks forward to Pitino coaching at the Hynes Athletics Center. “Iona has a long tradition of success on the court, and with Coach Pitino at the helm, this program will reach unfathomable new heights.”

Pitino, who has a stellar reputation for success on the court and a dedication to student-athlete academic success, has served as head coach of the University of Louisville (2001-2017, winning the 2013 NCAA Championship), University of Kentucky (1989-1997, winning the 1996 NCAA Championship), Providence College (1985-1987), Boston University (1978-1983) and Hawaii (last six games 1975-1976).  And, while often choosing to do so anonymously, Rick has served as a charitable benefactor for a broad spectrum of worthy causes.

Vice Chair Patrick Dunican noted he is “Ecstatic about the opportunity to welcome a phenomenally talented Coach and Hall of Famer to Iona Basketball.”

Bob LaPenta, Iona Trustee shared “I have known Rick and his family for over 20 years and he is without question one of college basketball’s greatest head coaches having won national NCAA championships at the University of Kentucky, and University of Louisville.  He will bring Iona’s already highly regarded program to another level locally and nationally.”

Founded in 1940, Iona University is a master's-granting private, Catholic, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. Iona's 45-acre New Rochelle campus and 28-acre Bronxville campus are just 20 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. With a total enrollment of nearly 4,000 students and an alumni base of over 50,000 around the world, Iona is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona is highly accredited, offering undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science, and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs. Iona’s LaPenta School of Business is accredited by AACSB International, a prestigious recognition awarded to just five percent of business schools worldwide. The Princeton Review recognized Iona’s on-campus MBA program as a “Best Business School for 2023.” Iona University also recently launched a new, fully online MBA program for even greater flexibility. In July 2021, Iona University and NewYork-Presbyterian announced the establishment of the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences, to be principally located on the University’s new campus in Bronxville, N.Y. Supported by a $20 million gift from NewYork-Presbyterian, the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences offers a new vision for collaborative health care education, modern workforce development, and community care. On July 1, 2022, Iona officially changed its status from College to University, reflecting the growth of its academic programs and the prestige of an Iona education.