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'Internet noise': Iona's Rick Pitino addresses college basketball coaching rumors

Iona basketball coach Rick Pitino is focused on many things with the MAAC Tournament, and potentially NCAA Tournament, coming around the corner.

As he game-plans for upcoming foes, he and the rest of the Iona Gaels say they're not concerned with the escalating rumors and speculation surrounding Pitino's future in college basketball.

"Other people may pay attention to it, but the staff, myself, and the players pay no attention to it," Pitino said Wednesday. "The internet is not going to hire a coach. Never has and never will. For me, it's all-in on Iona basketball, let's get this next game. Let's get Marist, let's get Rider and get down to Atlantic City and win. We're putting in 12-13 hour days right now, and to think about anything other than winning would be an injustice."

Iona University head coach Rick Pitino walks the sidelines as Iona hosts Mount St. Mary in men's basketball at Iona University in New Rochelle on Friday, February 3, 2023.
Iona University head coach Rick Pitino walks the sidelines as Iona hosts Mount St. Mary in men's basketball at Iona University in New Rochelle on Friday, February 3, 2023.

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The Gaels are 22-7, riding a nine-game winning streak. They repeated as MAAC regular-season title-winners and secured the No. 1 seed in next week's MAAC Tournament.

The 70-year old Pitino previously stated that Iona would be the final stop in his hall of fame coaching career and that being back home in New York played a big role. Since his return to college basketball, he's also shared that he's turned down several other Division I college basketball coaching offers.

"If Iona was in West Virginia, Kentucky, or in Pennsylvania, I would still be in Greece coaching in the Euroleague," Pitino said in 2021. "But because it's back home, I wanted to return home for the last remaining years that I get the opportunity to coach, and I'm just super excited to be the head coach there."

Pitino is in the third season of a five-year contract with Iona. He is a combined 59-21 overall with the Gaels, and 38-9 in MAAC play.

Given Iona's maintained success, the longtime coach's resume, and Pitino being cleared from any wrongdoing and NCAA punishment following the Louisville recruiting scandal, rumors have run rampant, with speculation of Pitino's candidacy regarding various college basketball coaching jobs, including St. John's and Georgetown.

"Magnify it by 10, and that's what it was like when I was at Kentucky," Pitino said of the rumors. "At that time, I was blessed to be offered by every pro job. One year, I was offered seven different NBA jobs, that's when it was distracting. ... Here, it's only internet noise and I don't go on that."

Follow Eugene Rapay on Twitter at @erapay5 and on Instagram at @byeugenerapay.

This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Rick Pitino: Iona basketball coach talks about coaching job rumors