Minnesota has fired men's basketball coach Richard Pitino after eight seasons, the school announced on Monday. During his tenure, Pitino amassed a 141-123 overall record. He took the program to two NCAA Tournament appearances during that span, yet his team finished with a losing record four out of his eight seasons at the helm.
"I recently met with Richard and told him that we were moving in a different direction," Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement. "Richard is a tremendous person and coach, and I want to thank him, Jill and their family for their commitment to Minnesota. We wish them well in their next endeavor.
"Decisions like this are never easy, but after evaluating this season and the previous eight years of our program under Richard, it is clear to me that new leadership is needed. We have one of the best practice facilities in the nation, a historic competition venue and a state that produces top-caliber talent. This is an extremely attractive job, and we will immediately start a nationwide search for our next head coach."
Adding a twist to the saga, Pitino's middling performance on the job has not precluded him from opportunities in the near future. Goodman additionally reported that Pitino is a finalist for the New Mexico job -- along with former Nebraska coach Tim Miles -- and that a decision from that program on who will fill the opening should be made in the coming days.
Pitino, 38, was hired by Minnesota in 2013 at 31 years old after just one season of head coaching experience at Florida International. There, he led the Panthers to their first winning season in 13 years. He also had prior experience as an assistant at Louisville, Florida, Duquesne and Northeastern.
Minnesota went 14-15 in the 2020-21 the season and fell off at the end of the year, losing eight of its final nine games to close the season. The writing was on the wall that a parting of ways was likely imminent. Pitino knew as much given that he reportedly interviewed for the New Mexico job, and acknowledged the awkward reality last week in a press conference with an illuminating response on his approach to it all.
"Not a lot bothers me," he said. "What am I gonna do, talk my way into things? That's not what I do. I have respect for authority. That's really it. It's not my decision. We all have bosses, that's OK. I do have a great relationship with Mark [Coyle]. If he gives me some bad news, that doesn't mean I'm going to flip a desk or anything. Life goes on."
Minnesota's decision to part ways with Pitino opens the second job vacancy in the Big Ten of the day after Indiana fired coach Archie Miller on Monday. Miller coached the Hoosiers for four seasons but failed to guide the program to the NCAA Tournament.