Iona College Hires Ex-Knick Coach Rick Pitino

Rick Pitino is back in college basketball and he will make his return at Iona College.

Pitino was a candidate for the position in the wake of Tim Cluess stepping down as coach due to health concerns.

The 67-year-old Pitino has been coaching in Greece since being fired by Louisville as part of a massive college basketball bribery scheme. (Pitino has staunchly maintained his innocence.)

The one-time Knicks coach who grew up on Long Island has close ties to multiple influential voices at Iona, including top booster Robert LaPenta, who formerly partnered with Pitino in ownership of racehorses. New Iona president Seamus Carey used to work at Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky., and is close with Rick Avare, Pitino’s agent and business manager.

“I took the job wanting it to be my last job,” Pitino said. “I spoke to numerous people about it and I’m glad I’m ending it with a small Catholic school that has the potential to be built up into a major power, regardless of what people think. I’m super excited about it. It’s a perfect fit at a perfect time in my life.”