Moments after UConn dispatched Iona 87–63 in the first round of the men’s NCAA tournament on Friday, questions about Rick Pitino’s future with the Gaels began to roll in.
When Pitino was asked if he had coached his last game at Iona, he shared a reserved response.
“I really don’t have an answer to it… I have no idea if it is or isn’t,” Pitino said during his postgame press conference, per Sports Illustrated’s Kevin Sweeney. “I focused everything on this game, trying to beat Connecticut.”
Over the last month, several programs that include Texas Tech, St. John’s and Georgetown have been linked to Pitino as their next head coach. Pitino’s response after Friday’s loss comes after the 70-year-old told reporters the day before that he had not been paying attention to the reports about his connection to various schools.
“You’re not hired by the Internet,” Pitino said ahead of Iona’s matchup against UConn. “My players, it’s not a distraction for them at all. I’ve always taken it as a compliment throughout all the years that if somebody else is interested in you, very thankful for that, but I never pay attention to it.”
Despite the first-round exit in this year’s tournament, Pitino believes that something special is brewing within the Gaels’ program.
“Iona is a special, special place,” Pitino said. “We’re building this program to a level right now, it’s pretty damn good.”
However, whether Pitino continues to build at Iona remains to be seen for now.