Rick Pitino's future: How many more years can the 70-year old Iona coach do this?

Iona coach Rick Pitino is one of the hottest names in college basketball at the moment.

Not only has he brought the Gaels back to the NCAA Tournament, but he's also been linked to several coaching job openings.

Everyone wants to know: Will he stay or will he go? And how many more years can the 70-year old Pitino keep coaching?

Rick Pitino celebrates Iona's MAAC championship.
Rick Pitino celebrates Iona's MAAC championship.

"I'm physically fit, and mentally, I think I still have it, but my wife always says, 'if you want to make God laugh, make a plan,'" Pitino said. "I just think you take it one year at a time. My desire would be to coach that long, because the two years I was out of coaching were the two most miserable years of my life because I missed it so much. I love teaching, coaching, motivating – everything about it.

"That's why I went to Greece, that was a big thing for me. I hope I can coach for another 12 years, but I'll take six or seven."

Pitino's coaching career began in 1974, when he was an assistant at Hawaii. Since then, it's been a lengthy career that has spanned over more than four decades, including stops at Syracuse, Boston University, Providence, Kentucky, Louisville, and NBA gigs with the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics.

Iona coach Rick Pitino (center) looks on during a Selection Sunday watch party at Iona University on March 12, 2023.
Iona coach Rick Pitino (center) looks on during a Selection Sunday watch party at Iona University on March 12, 2023.

"He lives for this," Iona senior Berrick JeanLouis said. "He loves basketball a lot. He even says in practice a lot how he'll die for basketball and die on the basketball court. He talks crazy for it, he loves it. He just wants us to have the experience he had and make memories that last forever."

Last season, Pitino reached the 800-win milestone as a college basketball coach, a mark that also includes the vacated wins from Louisville.

He is 64-21 overall and 40-9 in MAAC play in his three years at Iona. The Gaels have won two MAAC regular-season and tournament titles, and they'll be making their second NCAA Tournament appearance under the Hall of Fame coach.

"I have a terrific team coming back," Pitino said. "It's going to take a special place for me to consider leaving."

Rick Pitino rumors

Pitino has been the subject of numerous coaching job rumors, especially at nearby St. John's, but his focus remains with the Gaels.

"Today, I would say you're not hired by the internet," Pitino said. "My players, it's not a distraction, we have a lot of fun together. I've always taken it as a compliment all these years if someone else is interested in you, but I don't pay attention to it. ... It's all about Iona."

More Iona basketball coverage

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How to watch: Iona-UConn game time, TV/streaming info, betting odds and other game notes

Dance partners: Iona men's and women's basketball teams both ready for March Madness

UConn: Four things to know about Iona's first round opponent, the UConn Huskies

Pitino: Longtime coach passes on knowledge, experiences through a love of storytelling

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

This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Rick Pitino and Iona basketball: How much longer can he coach?