Richard Pitino to join Gators' staff
Pitino will replace Shaka Smart, who left the program after one season to take the head coaching position at VCU.
“I’ve known Richard his whole life,'' UF coach Billy Donovan said. "I feel like we’re getting a terrific recruiter, basketball coach and person. We’re also getting somebody that also understands our program and system because of the similarities between what we do and what Louisville does. I’m grateful to Coach Pitino for allowing me to help Richard continue to grow and develop as a coach.“
Pitino has spent the past two years as an assistant at Louisville, helping the Cardinals to the No. 1 overall seed in the 2009 NCAA Tournament and back-to-back Elite Eights.
Pitino, 26, is a 2005 graduate of the Providence College. He spent two seasons as a manager for the Friar’s basketball program. While at Providence, Pitino served as an assistant coach at St. Andrew’s School in Barrington, R.I. for two years. In his first season the team finished the year ranked 25th in the nation by USA Today and won the New England Prep School Championship.
"I'm very excited about the opportunity to work with Coach Donovan at Florida" Pitino said. "I've known him my whole life and feel like he's a part of our family. Moving on will give me an opportunity to be a part of another one of the nation's top programs and I'm thrilled to work with one of the best coaches in the nation as well. I'm proud of what we accomplished and thoroughly enjoyed my time during my two years at Louisville while working for my father. Now, I'm dedicated to continue to build on what has already been accomplished with the Gators."
Donovan played for Rick Pitino at Providence, then worked as an assistant coach under Pitino at Kentucky. Donovan has said Pitino is like a second father to him. Rick Pitino said he believes this is a good move for his son.
"Richard and I have been talking this possibility over for the last two weeks," Rick Pitino said in a statement. "Billy is like a son to me and there's no other person in the country that I would rather have Richard work with than him. We both agree that this a unique opportunity for Richard to develop his own identity while helping Billy build his program back to national prominence. Richard has done an unbelievable job in his recruiting efforts. I'm so proud of what he has accomplished over the last two years at Louisville. I'm excited and very happy for him to have this opportunity to continue to grow as a basketball coach under one of the best coaches in the game.”
Prior to coming to Louisville, Pitino spent two years on Ron Everhart’s staffs at Northeastern (2005-06) and Duquesne (2006-07). He spent the 2004-05 season as an administrative assistant under Tom Herrion at the College of Charleston.