Rick Pitino, one of the most brilliant minds in coaching, began a new era in University of Louisville men's basketball when he was named head coach of the Cardinals on March 21, 2001. And as he successfully accomplished at his previous three collegiate coaching stops, it is clear that there couldn't have been a finer choice to lead Louisville back among the nation's elite teams. Coached by Pitino, the Cardinals won the 2013 NCAA National Championship (their 3rd) and their 10th NCAA Regional Championship (Final Four).
Pitino's up-tempo style, pressure defense, strong work ethic and family atmosphere have quickly returned the Cardinals to national prominence, with top 25 rankings over the last several years and a visit to the 2005 Final Four for the first time in 19 years as evidence. Among active coaches, Pitino has the third-highest winning percentage in NCAA Tournament games. He is one of a select group of four coaches who have taken teams from four different schools to the NCAA Tournament. He is one of 10 coaches all-time who have reached the Final Four on at least five occasions.
Most recently in 2013, Pitino led the Louisville Cardinals to their third National Championship in an 82-76 win over Michigan to become the first NCAA Division I coach in history to win a championship with two different schools.
Pitino's impact goes beyond the teaching, motivation and X's and O's of his on-the-court skills. His incredible charisma, tireless work ethic, captivating speaking skills and widespread appeal not only mesmerize the Cardinal faithful, but have the college basketball world abuzz as well. Pitino is known for getting his players to believe in themselves, instilling the desire to succeed and driving his players to overachieve. His former players speak of their coach's caring nature beyond their basketball skills.
Pitino holds the distinction of being the only men's coach in NCAA history to lead three different schools (Providence, Kentucky, and Louisville) to a Final and the only coach in the NCAA to lead two different schools to an NCAA National Championship (Kentucky and Louisville). A 2006 inductee to the New York City Hall of Fame, Pitino has embraced the storied tradition of Louisville Basketball and made a commitment to producing a vibrant program that will soon challenge for a national title. On April 8 during the 2013 Final Four, it was announced that Pinto was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and on September 8, he was officially inducted.
Aside from his hoops prowess, Pitino has achieved success off the court as well in such realms as broadcasting, publishing, motivational speaking and horse racing. He is an accomplished author, producing such books as the best seller Success Is A Choice, Lead to Succeed and Rebound Rules: The Art of Success 2.0. His most recent book is The One-Day Contract published in October 2013.
Pitino became head coach of the New York Knicks in 1987. The year before he arrived, the team had won only 24 games. In just two years, Pitino led the Knicks to their first division title in nearly twenty years. For three and a half years, Pitino served as president and head coach of the NBA's Boston Celtics. With the Celtics, he took over a team that had posted a franchise worst 15-67 record before his arrival. He quickly made an impact, improving the Celtics' victory total by 21 games in his first season. He resigned his position with the storied franchise on Jan. 8, 2001 after compiling a 102-146 record there.
Pitino got his start in coaching as a graduate assistant at Hawai'i in 1974 and served as a full-time assistant there in 1975-76. He served two seasons as an assistant at Syracuse under Jim Boeheim from 1976-78.
Pitino was only 25 years old when he accepted his first head coaching job at Boston University in 1978. He produced a 91-51 record in five years there, departing as the most successful coach in BU history. In his final season there, he guided the Terriers to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 24 years. He was twice named New England Coach of the Year (1979, 1983).
Pitino left Boston U. to become an assistant coach for the New York Knicks from 1983-85, where he worked with head coach Hubie Brown. It was a team he would return to lead as its head coach in two seasons.
He was head coach at Providence College for two seasons (1985-87), producing a 42-23 record there. He guided the Friars to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 1986 and a trip to the NCAA Final Four in 1987, winning the regional championship in Freedom Hall.
Before his stint at Kentucky, Pitino served as head coach of the New York Knicks for two seasons. In his initial year there in 1987-88, the Knicks improved by 14 victories and made the NBA Playoffs for the first time in four seasons. The Knicks won 52 games in 1988-89 and swept the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.