Ex-Louisville coach Rick Pitino reportedly finalizing deal to become coach of EuroLeague's Panathinaikos in Greece
Pitino last coached in 2017 at Louisville before being fired for alleged involvement in a pay-for-play scandal
It looks like Rick Pitino is jumping back into coaching.
Only a year removed from being fired at Louisville, the Hall of Fame coach is finalizing a deal to become the next coach of Panathinaikos of Greece, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Panathinaikos is one of the top clubs in the EuroLeague.
Pitino previously coached at the University of Louisville from 2001-2017, but was ousted after the FBI alleged he was involved in a pay-for-play scandal that landed him a five-star recruit in Brian Bowen. Pitino was fired by the university for cause, and he subsequentlyagainst the University of Louisville Athletic Association for the remaining $38.7 million on his contract at the time of his firing.
Pitino has gone back and forth about whether or not he would aim for a comeback to the coaching ranks. In March, he was adamant he wanted to return no matter the level. Six months later, in September 2018, he said he wasn't going to coach again.
Part of his waffling likely had to do with lack of opportunity available to him. In October, Wojnarowski reported he was interested in becoming an NBA head coaching candidate – which seemed an unlikely scenario, given his NBA stints with the Celtics and Knicks were flops. And coaching in the college ranks, given his Louisville tenure is marred by scandal, appeared to be far-fetched -- though a return to either shouldn't be ruled out.
The EuroLeague gives Pitino the opportunity to coach again, even if it isn't likely his most desired level. It was likely one of his only options if he did indeed choose to get back in the game. And with Panathinaikos, he has a good opportunity.
Panathinaikos has won six EuroLeague titles since 1996. It has started the season 6-7 and fired its coach, Xavi Pascual, to make way for Pitino to coach the team.
Pitino has a 770-271 coaching record in the college ranks, and has advanced to the Final Four seven times and won two national championships.
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