Rick Pitino has a new college basketball coaching job, and he hopes John Calipari will consider scheduling Kentucky to play his Iona team.Rick Pitino wants to schedule Kentucky to play Iona, but not Louisville —
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Rick Pitino is looking to upgrade the basketball schedule at his new program, Iona.
“I would love to schedule Kentucky in (Madison Square) Garden in the Jimmy V Classic,” Pitino said Monday morning in an interview on the Dan Patrick Show. “I think that would be a great draw and would be exciting to see. I hope John (Calipari) would entertain that.”
Pitino said Calipari called him on Sunday to congratulate him about his new position.
The suggestion about scheduling Kentucky came after Patrick asked Pitino if he planned to schedule Louisville, where Pitino’s coaching stint ended after multiple scandals.
“No,” Pitino said immediately. “How quick was that answer?”
Pitino had previously told Patrick in a 2018 interview he did not expect to coach in college basketball again after he was fired by Louisville in the wake of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball.
He said Monday that testimony in the federal trial resulting from that investigation that he had no direct knowledge of Adidas payments to Louisville player Brian Bowen II’s father was enough to put him back on the radar of college programs. He also had a connection to Iona president Seamus Carey from Carey’s time as president of Transylvania University in Lexington.
Patrick closed the interview by suggesting a four-team event with Iona and the three teams Pitino previously coached to Final Fours (Kentucky, Louisville and Providence).
“How about we have Kentucky, Providence, Iona and St John’s?” Pitino countered instead.
The idea of Iona and Kentucky playing might not be as unlikely as it initially seems. While the rivalry between Pitino and Calipari was intense while Pitino was at Louisville, Calipari said in December 2018 he thought Kentucky should honor Pitino for his role in rebuilding the program from probation to the 1996 national title.
“He was with family and he had things going on,” Calipari said when Pitino did not come to Rupp Arena for a celebration of the 1993 UK Final Four team. “I just said, ‘Look, you need to get up here. This will be respectful here.’ What that program did to change this back, we should recognize it. You may be mad he went to coach at Louisville. So, what? When he was here and when we needed this program on a different track, he put it (there).”