Report: Gophers expected to part ways with Richard Pitino

After eight seasons with the program, Minnesota is expected to part ways with head Richard Pitino, according to the Stadium’s Jeff Goodman. The University of Minnesota confirmed this report on Monday night. 

“I recently met with Richard and told him that we were moving in a different direction. Richard is a tremendous person and coach, and I want to thank him, Jill and their family for their commitment to Minnesota. We wish them well in their next endeavor,” Athletic Director Mark Coyle said.

Coyle evaluated the program from every angle and felt a change in leadership was necessary. He said the athletic department will conduct a nationwide search for Minnesota’s next head basketball coach. 

“Decisions like this are never easy, but after evaluating this season and the previous eight years of our program under Richard, it is clear to me that new leadership is needed. We have one of the best practice facilities in the nation, a historic competition venue and a state that produces top-caliber talent,” Coyle said. “This is an extremely attractive job, and we will immediately start a nationwide search for our next head coach.”

It is worth noting that Pitino has been speaking with New Mexico about its head coaching job. Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press reported that he interviewed for the position this weekend. If he does indeed land in New Mexico, Minnesota may not be responsible for his $1.75 million buyout. Since the two parties are “parting ways,” it is unclear whether the Gophers would still responsible for Pitino’s $1.75 million buyout. We will gain more clarity on this after Coyle speaks with the Twin Cities media on Tuesday morning. 

Pitino finished his tenure with a 141-123 record, including a 54-96 mark in Big Ten regular season games. He also led the program to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. One of the most notable moments of the Pitino era occurred in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Gabe Kalscheur drained five 3-pointers and Minnesota picked up a thrilling 86-76 win over Louisville. 

Despite moments like that, Minnesota’s program never took the next step. The Gophers finished with a losing conference record in seven of Pitino’s eight seasons at the helm. This year, for the second time under Pitino, Minnesota never won a game away from Williams Arena. In total, the Gophers won just 14 Big Ten road games during his tenure. 

The Pitino era was defined by player development, recruiting and late-game coaching lapses. His teams were also plagued by injuries on multiple occasions. All of the those factors contributed to Minnesota’s inconsistencies. However, one major deficiency prevented Richard Pitino from taking Minnesota’s program to new heights. Subscribers can read about it by clicking here. 

Minnesota’s coaching search is well underway. Right now, Mark Coyle is casting a wide net across college basketball. Future Gophers Guru subscriber pieces will highlight possible candidates. 

Coyle ultimately wants to find a head coach that can build a consistent program. The Gophers have not won a Big Ten Championship since 1982. If Minnesota is going to accomplish this, Coyle must hire a coach that can recruit and develop players at a very high level. I also have a feeling the Gophers will target a coach that emphasizes culture-building. It is the only way Minnesota’s program can compete within one of the best conferences in college basketball. 

If you’re interested in learning how Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman would fit in Minnesota, click here. Could Coyle overcome financial obstacles and make a big splash?

Also, here is an in-depth study on the Pitino and Tubby Smith eras. Why have the Gophers been unable to take the next step?

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