"When the University of Louisville went looking for its first new men's basketball coach in 30 years a few years ago, it didn't just get the best person available. The Cardinals got arguably the best person, period.
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 from the Cards' first game upon his arrival when an uptempo, lean and energetic team took the court, it was apparent that there couldn't have been a finer choice to return Louisville to national prominence.
Pitino's up-tempo style, pressure defense, strong work ethic and family atmosphere have quickly returned the Cardinals to national prominence, earning U of L's second straight NCAA Tournament bid last season.
Pitino is among the elite list of winningest all-time NCAA division I coaches. He is one of just eleven coaches who have taken teams from two different schools to the NCAA Final Four. He is also one of 14 coaches all-time who have reached the Final Four on at least four occasions.
For three and a half years before joining the Cards, 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 January 8, 2001 after compiling a 102-146 record there.
He guided Kentucky to three NCAA Final Four appearances in his last five years at Kentucky, winning the 1996 NCAA Championship and reaching the national title game in 1997. In eight seasons with the Wildcats, he amassed a 219-50 record (.814) while winning two league crowns and an impressive 17-1 record in the Southeastern Conference
While at Kentucky, Pitino coached three Wildcats who earned All-America honors and eight players who were drafted by the NBA, including six in the first round (three lottery picks).
Pitino, got his start in coaching as a graduate assistant at Hawaii in 1974 and served as a full-time assistant there in 1975 to 1976. He served two seasons as an assistant at Syracuse under Jim Boeheim from 1976 to 1978.
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.
Pitino left Boston U. to become an assistant coach for the New York Knicks from 1983 to 1985, 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 to 1987), 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 Louisville's Freedom Hall.
Before his stint at Kentucky, Rick served as head coach of the New York Knicks for two seasons. In his initial year in 1987 to 1988, 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 to 1989 and swept the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
Pitino is an accomplished author, producing such books as the bestseller Success Is A Choice and Lead to Succeed.
He earned his degree at Massachusetts in 1974, where he captained the Minutemen's basketball team and played his freshman year with NBA legend Julius Erving. Pitino's 329 career assists ranks eighth all-time at UMass. His 168 assists as a senior is the sixth-best single season total ever at Massachusetts.
Born September 18, 1952, Pitino is a native of New York City where he was a standout guard for Dominic High School in Oyster Bay, Long Island. There, he captained his team and established several school scoring marks.
Rick and his wife Joanne have five children: Michael, Christopher, Richard, Ryan and Jacqueline.
Rick is the 18th Louisville head coach and just the fourth Cardinal coach in the last 58 years.