Basketball Head Coach Richard Pitino leaves FIU

FIUSM sports staff

After just one season with FIU, basketball Head Coach Richard Pitino is expected to replace Tubby Smith as head coach at University of Minnesota.

According to CBS Sports, Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague met with Pitino on Wednesday and the two reached a verbal agreement.

Pitino could not be reached for comment.

According to senior guard Cameron Bell, no one on the team had any idea Pitino planned on leaving.

FIU basketball staff, Athletic Director Pete Garcia and media relations were not made available for comment.

Pitino just finished year one of a five-year, $1.25 million deal with the Panthers that he signed in April 2012. Because he has decided to leave, in his contract, it says that he must now pay one year’s salary to FIU, worth $250,000.

The specifics of the Minnesota contract are unknown.

Pitino led the Panthers to an 18-14 record and their first winning season in 13 years before falling to Western Kentucky in the Sun Belt Conference Championship.

“It’s just a shocker that he left, especially with a great recruiting class coming in as well as some of the transfers that are going be playing for us next year like Raymond Taylor and Rakeem Buckles,” senior guard Manny Nunez said. “We had one of the best seasons in FIU history and we were going in the right direction. I’m just shocked he would leave right now.”

News of Pitino’s departure comes almost a year to the day after FIU fired Isiah Thomas after a dismal three years as FIU’s head coach.

As of now, it is undetermined who is in charge of the team or if there is an ongoing search for a replacement.