A deal for Richard Pitino to return to Louisville as an assistant is in the works, but according to the Louisville Courier’s C.L. Brown, it won’t be as head coach in waiting.
“That’s not the way I operate,” Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich told Brown. “I would never put that kind of pressure on him (Richard), and I don’t think Rick would want that kind of pressure on him.”
Donovan said during his press conference to introduce new assistant coaches John Pelphrey and Norm Roberts that Pitino was leaving for the chance to become head coach in waiting at Louisville.
“Richard has got an opportunity to go back to Louisville as an associate coach with the opportunity to possibly be coach in waiting there,” Donovan said. “That’s something that has been discussed.”
Donovan also said that former assistant Rob Lanier, who left to become Texas’ associate coach last week, had a chance to be named coach in waiting there. But Texas coach Rick Barnes, who said he was ‘ecstatic’ to have Lanier back as an assistant, hasn’t named Lanier coach in waiting. Lanier worked under Barnes at Texas from 1999-2001 before moving on to his first head coaching job at Sienna.
Donovan said during his press conference last week that he thinks that 28-year-old Richard Pitino is ready to be a head coach in Division I basketball. Pitino worked two seasons under Donovan.
“I think the situation at Louisville is going to really depend on how he feels about that or not he wants to do something like that,” Donovan said. “I know it’s been talked about. I would say Richard is very, very close to being a head coach.”
Donovan said Pitino interviewed last season for the head coaching job at Iona. Pitino was a finalist for the head coaching job at Florida Gulf Coast University and had some interest from Missouri State before deciding to return to Louisville last week.
“I was a head coach at 27, 28 years old,” Donovan said. “I think it today’s day and age people say, wow, that’s really young. Richard has really done it the right way. He started out as an assistant high school basketball coach while he was in college, he was a graduate assistant at Providence College. He worked as an assistant at Northeastern and at Duquense. He worked his way up. He just wasn’t handed the Louisville job or the Florida job.”